GP Connect introduced to all NHS practices and specialist centres to help during COVID-19

NHS 111 staff will be enabled to book appointments for patients at appropriate surgeries
By Sophie Porter
01:44 am
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Credit: NHS Digital

NHS Digital and NHSX have announced the national rollout of digital interoperability system GP Connect to all NHS GP surgeries and specialist care centres. The programme will enable secure sharing of patient information across primary care services, enabling more efficient access to care for patients.

WHY IT MATTERS

GP Connect enables patients to book in and receive care from surgeries other than their registered practices by sharing a secure database of patient information with other healthcare professionals. As a result, this will accommodate flexibility for staff and services and prioritise the delivery of high-quality primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GP Connect service offers four key solutions for more accessible care: a read-only patient record that equips primary care facilities with secure information on the patient’s medical history; appointment management allowing extended access services or NHS 111 staff to book appointments for patients at convenient times; structured records access, including downloadable content on the patient’s medications and allergies; and a consultation summary, which is sent to the patient’s GP and added to their medical record.

In order to assist with the transition to GP Connect, NHSX has released a guide providing basic training of the programme. This will enable practices across the country to benefit from the improved functionality of primary healthcare supported by the service in the midst of the COVID-19 health emergency.

During the crisis, additional data such as significant medical history, specific communication needs and care plan information will be added to the patient’s Summary Care Record (SCR), unless they have already opted-out. This will be in addition to the basic personal information, current medication and allergy data already held on the record.

THE LARGER PICTURE

During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been increased attention on flexibility and interoperability of service in the NHS. This includes secure messaging options for clinicians, streamlined onboarding of temporary workers and a surge in telehealth options.

ON THE RECORD

Richard Alcock, director of Primary Care Technology at NHS Digital said: “GPs and other frontline clinicians are increasingly finding themselves working differently, with normal working patterns disrupted and a greater pressure than seen before on the system. Patients will now be able to have appointments booked at practices other than where they are registered as well as at a number of different healthcare settings. However, for that to work in practice, their new clinicians will need to have swift access to pertinent medical information, such a previous medical history or medications prescribed, to treat them safely.”

Matthew Gould, CEO at NHSX said: "Colleagues on the frontline across the NHS are doing extraordinary work in caring for our patients in the most challenging of circumstances, and these temporary changes will help them to give the most prompt and appropriate care to people who need it.”

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