A parliamentary committee has asked the government to set out what progress has been made on rolling out ‘the full digital product’ for the documentation of Pharmacy First consultations.

In its report concluding its pharmacy inquiry earlier this week, the Health and Social Care Committee asked the government to share the percentage of community pharmacies that have fully functioning and interoperable read/write access to patient records.

It also recommended that the ongoing evaluation of Pharmacy First ‘includes an assessment of the extent to which pharmacy and general practice digital systems are enabling the necessary data sharing to protect patient safety and ensure continuity of care’.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) confirmed to The Pharmacist this week that it understood that two IT suppliers: Cegedim and Positive Solutions Hx Consult, had fully rolled out updates to allow pharmacies to send structured records of Pharmacy First consultations to GP practices.

Positve Solutions was rolled out earlier this month, while Cegedim was the first IT supplier to complete the roll out in April.

According to CPE, EMIS Pinnacle PharmOutcomes and Sonar are currently working towards rollout.

A spokesperson for EMIS said it was 'working closely with NHS England on the software roll out' and would 'notify users when this commences'.

Commenting on the development, CPE's IT policy manager Dan Ah-Thion said CPE welcomed the further rollout to another system supplier, which he said had been supported by CPE and the cross-sector Community Pharmacy IT Group.

'For those pharmacies with the feature, their Pharmacy First consultation record systems should automatically send structured updates to the GP record. This will replace the burdensome process in which pharmacy teams and GP practices had needed to use NHSmail,' he said.

'IT suppliers and NHS England must carefully monitor the technology during the early testing and rollout stages to check that it works as required. IT suppliers must also communicate to their users as they roll this out.'

The GP update record functionality was originally planned to be launched at the same time that the Pharmacy First service launched, which was originally intended to be the end of 2023 but moved to January 2024.

But the start date for IT systems was delayed ‘to allow additional technical work and testing by suppliers and NHS England’, CPE said on its website.

Until pharmacies receive the update, those using other suppliers must continue to use NHS Mail to send records of Pharmacy First consultations to GP practices.