The Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC) has called for all pharmacy teams delivering NHS services to be given read and write access to patient records ‘as a matter of urgency’.

A motion proposed yesterday by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) condemned ‘slow’ progress on the single care record currently proposed by the Scottish Government.

And it said that the current access pharmacists have to patient information via the Pharmacy Care Record did not enable ‘proper information sharing between pharmacists and other clinical practitioner’.

The motion continued: ‘It is of concern that some information around supply and advice given using the Pharmacy First scheme is not communicated to GP surgeries.’

Instead, interventions made by community pharmacists or changes made to treatment are often communicated by email or paper, causing a ‘time lag’ that ‘does not benefit patients and is worse at weekends and holiday periods’, the PDA said.

The union raised concerns about how a lack of access to patient records would work with an increasing number of pharmacists qualifying as independent prescribers.

‘Many pharmacists do not have full and proper access to patient records and are being asked to prescribe drugs without the ability to access relevant information about the patient,’ the motion read.

And while it committed the STUC’s support for the development of ‘a single integrated patient record system to enable sharing of information between hospital departments, GP practices, community pharmacies and other sites at which prescriptions are written’, it added: ‘this will take time’.

And ‘as a matter of urgency’, it called for ‘all pharmacy teams, wherever they deliver NHS services, to be allowed appropriate and easily accessible read and write access to patient records.’

This would be ‘in the best interests of patients’, it said.

The motion, which was presented yesterday at the Congress in Dundee, was carried, meaning that it is now the policy of the STUC that all pharmacy teams, wherever they deliver NHS services, should be allowed appropriate and easily accessible read and write access to patient records.

Paul Flynn, the PDA's national officer for Scotland, told The Pharmacist that the PDA was able to 'represent the views, perspectives and interests of Scotland’s pharmacists, and their patients, in the wider discussions of the nation’s working people' because it was an affiliate of the STUC.

He said that the PDA delegation of pharmacists that attended the congress had been able to outline the current situation regarding patient records, as well as 'the benefit for patients for any independent prescriber to have full and proper access to up-to-date patient records'.

Commenting on the motion, Laura Wilson, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director for Scotland, said that it was 'crucial' for pharmacists to have both read and write access to patient records.

She told The Pharmacist that since the publication of RPS Scotland’s 'Pharmacy 2030' Vision the RPS in Scotland had 'actively engaged with politicians, healthcare leaders, and pharmacists to emphasise this need and how this could be implemented'.

'This led to shared patient records becoming a central recommendation in the Health, Social Care, and Sport Committee's recent report on Alternative Pathways to Primary Care,' Ms Wilson said.

She described the recommendation as 'a significant step forward' and said that RPS Scotland was 'continuing to collaborate with policymakers to progress this important agenda'.

Public Health Minister Jenni Minto told The Pharmacist that the Scottish government was 'committed to delivering a service that offers patients and care providers secure access to their health and care data in a timely, transparent, and meaningful manner'.

She added: 'Our strategy supports greater sharing of information between those providing care, with community pharmacists accessing up-to-date summaries of patients’ medication requirements via the NHS Emergency Care Summary system.

'Many health boards also allow access to the Clinical Portal, which offers essential patient information during emergencies or where a patient’s GP practice is out of hours.

'We are continuing to build the development of a nationally consistent integrated social care and health record that will significantly enhance the service offered to both patients and care providers throughout Scotland.'