The rollout of the summary care record in England is well under way. Joanne Taylor asks what this means for community pharmacy

The pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in my area recently attended a local training session run by the LPC in preparation for the implementation of the summary care record (SCR). We all had questions to ask, especially regarding payments, accessibility and the system’s security. 

The SCR is essentially an electronic patient record formed using information held by a patient’s GP. It contains their NHS number, name, address, date of birth and GP practice, as well as key clinical information such as prescribed medicines, allergies and adverse reactions. More than 96 per cent of England’s population have an SCR. But what will we use these for?

Essential services

  • When dispensing prescriptions
  • To check current medicines, medicine history, allergies and adverse reactions
  • To support self care for public health services and promote healthy lifestyles. 

Advanced services

  • During a medicines use review, to verify and compare medicines currently prescribed and their allergy status 
  • Delivery of the new medicine service. 

Locally commissioned services

  • When supplying medicines under locally commissioned services or when providing smoking cessation NRT products, to check current medicines, medicine history, allergies and adverse reactions so as to avoid complications.

Dispensing an emergency supply

  • At the request of the patient, to verify the name, form, strength and dose of medicines previously supplied. 

Patients must provide informed consent for healthcare professionals to view their SCR, and the process and reasons for viewing it must be fully explained. It would be inappropriate and unethical to access information from a record for purposes unrelated to the requested pharmacy service. However, if the patient is not able to give permission to access their SCR, then ‘access in an emergency’ may be suitable. A full explanation of why access is required without patient consent must be added to the SCR.

If a competent adult refuses to give consent, you should explain the consequences of their decision clearly, taking care not to pressure the patient to accept your advice, and make a record in the PMR, including your discussions and the advice given.

For audit trail and accurate records, a note should be made in the patient’s PMR at the point of care, signifying that consent to view the SCR has been obtained, as well as a summary of any interventions or decisions made and their outcomes. This will be invaluable in helping to demonstrate that the pharmacist provided the appropriate standard of care, and/or to account for professional decision making.

The pharmacy’s privacy officer plays a vital role in ensuring the SCR has been viewed legitimately and that the necessary standards were met.

So have a think about how your practice may change as a result of the SCR and don’t forget – pharmacy technicians have a key part to play in ensuring that the best outcomes for patients are achieved by using this system correctly and appropriately.

Joanne is a registered pharmacy technician and ACPT, and is professional standards lead at Vittoria Healthcare. She is national secretary for the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), and is a member of the Medicines Rebalancing Programme Board at the Department of Health as well as TM’s editorial advisory panel.



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