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Majority of GPs now give patients online access to records

NHS England is close to reaching its target of having nine in 10 GPs offering patients access to their primary care records online

More than 80% of GPs in England are offering patients access to their medical records, either online or through the NHS App, according to NHS England.

The government set a goal for nine in 10 GPs giving patient access to records through the NHS App by March 2024, as part of plans to improve access to primary care services. The plan also includes freeing up 10 million GP appointments and giving patients more choice.

According to the latest figures, more than four in five GP practices in England (81.1%) offer patients access to their primary care medical records, including test results and consultation notes, online or through the NHS App.

Vin Diwakar, national director for transformation at NHS England, said that in October 2023, more than nine million people used the NHS App to view their records.

“Boosting patient records access will undoubtedly bring improvements for both patients and staff,” he said.

“More than 4,500 practices across the country have given patients access to their future records and we strongly encourage the remaining practices to implement the change with support available to help the practices that are having challenges delivering this service to patients.”

Access to future records is now a legal right for people, and GP practices are required to give all patients over the age of 16 access to health record entries, unless the patient chooses not to have access.

This improved access to records only covers new data entries into the record, which is screened to ensure it is suitable for patients to view, however patients are still entitled to request to view their historical record.

Rachel Power, CEO of the Patients Association, said that patients are keen to have “straightforward access to their medical records”.

“Increasing the numbers who can see their health information via the NHS App is good news for patients. We hear from patients how helpful knowing test results or upcoming appointments is to them in taking care of themselves,” Power said. 

“And as more patients are able to use digital access to the records, it will reduce calls to general practice requesting information patients can now access themselves.”

The roll-out of the NHS App first began in January 2019, and it was hailed as the digital front door to the NHS. During the Covid-19 pandemic, use of the app spiked significantly, as it was used for various services including online consultations and Covid vaccination status.

NHS England is in the process of replacing the NHS App with a new, native app, which will be present on the phone and integrate with its architecture, rather than run as a web-based version, which the NHS hopes will support additional services and functionality.

The government published its plan for digital health and social care in June 2022, which promised more personalised healthcare and faster access to services.

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