In a letter published yesterday, the Scottish Government have agreed to give community pharmacies access to the emergency care summary as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the letter, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Rose Marie Parr, Deputy Director, Digital Health and Care Jonathan Cameron and Deputy Director, Primary Care Aidan Grisewood said the following:
“The Scottish Government has been preparing to issue Directions regulating access to the data processed by the Emergency Care Summary (“ECS”) system. It is intended that those Directions will supersede the existing Chief Medical Officer and Chief Dental Officer letters on the subject.
“The intention is that the Directions will also include pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working in Community Pharmacy amongst the staff groups to whom access could be granted for the purposes of providing health care.
“These Directions are in the process of being prepared and will be issued in due course. However, in light of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Scotland, we are now informing Health Boards that they may provide access to the ECS data set to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians as part of their Covid-19 response, providing that it is practical to do so and Health Boards are satisfied that they can appropriately discharge their data protection obligations.
“This measure will assist in increasing the ability of community pharmacists to manage patients in the community at a time of unprecedented demand for health services.
“This measure is supported by the Scottish General Practitioners’ Committee of the BMA. The intention is that Directions regulating access to the ECS system will be issued in due course.
“The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued guidance relating to data protection and the Covid-19 outbreak which health organisations should be aware of can be accessed by clicking here.”
Jonathan Burton, Chair of RPS Scotland, said:
“RPS has been campaigning for a long time to get access to patient records for all pharmacists. Today’s announcement is a very welcome first step and is a positive move forward for patient care in these unprecedented times.
“Pharmacists and their teams are working flat out to support the public and the NHS. We want to ensure the government continues to support the vital role that pharmacy teams have in caring for their local communities. Yesterday we published 6 essential asks that we believe are vital to enabling pharmacy to cope with the workload they are facing.
“Pharmacy teams are often the first place the public go for health care and we are seeing a significant increase in the number of people attending their local pharmacy. It’s vital that staff should feel safe to continue looking after patients. We are calling for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be made available to those pharmacy teams who need it. Frontline staff, including pharmacists and their staff, must be protected, and testing them for the virus should also be a priority.
“We expect to see an increased impact on pharmacy services, which are already under pressure. Pharmacists in both secondary and primary care settings are key to supporting medicines safety and providing frontline services to patients. It is essential that all pharmacists supporting the health service are given access to health and wellbeing support at this crucial time.”
This circular is being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.