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BMA gives Government seven-day ultimatum over online patient access to GP records

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Exclusive The BMA has given the Government a seven-day ultimatum to address concerns over online patient access to GP records before it takes ‘significant action’, Pulse has learned.

Automatic access to patients’ prospective patient records is due to be switched on by Wednesday next week, following delays related to concerns about patient safety.

But a letter sent to practices on Tuesday, seen by Pulse, said that the BMA ‘continues to have significant concerns about the rollout’ and suggested that it has threatened to block it.

England GP Committee deputy chair Dr David Wrigley, who is leading on the issue, said: ‘The BMA sent a letter written in the strongest terms last Friday to the Government and we have given them seven days to respond otherwise we will consider further significant action .

‘I will update as time goes by and we do continue to engage in talks and negotiations.’

He added that the BMA is ‘continuing to push very hard’ and is ‘working on this issue every day’.

Practices can still request that their system supplier does not turn the functionality on or batch code patient records to block access, he said.

He added: ‘The BMA (and the vast majority of GPs) don’t object to patients accessing their records, but it has to be done in a safe way and when the project is fit for purpose.’

Meanwhile, an LMC has revealed that the BMA has sought legal advice over potential action against the rollout.

A recent Cambs LMC bulletin said: ‘The BMA has sought a KC opinion around a potential injunction, as major concerns have still not been addressed.’

However, the BMA was unable to provide Pulse with further details on this.

Dr Wrigley told Pulse: ‘The BMA has repeatedly raised its concerns about the current model proposed for the Citizens’ Access programme, particularly around safeguarding measures.

‘GPC England is considering all options available and continues to work with NHS England, NHS Digital and Government to find a way forward that works for patients, their GPs, and practice staff.’

He added: ‘In the meantime, the BMA is committed to supporting practices and has compiled guidance on what to do.’

Earlier this month, Pulse revealed that practices that opt ​​all of their patients out of automatic access will not be in breach of their contract, as long as they manually offer access to each individual patient.

And the RCGP has said that GP practices can block abusive patients from gaining automatic access to their records online if they pose a ‘risk of harm’ to staff.

All practices are set to have automatic access switched on by the end of the month, meaning that patients will be able to view anything added to their records from now on through the NHS App.

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