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Pharmacy First Update and GP Connect

GP Connect Update Record will be enabled on 2nd April for all SystmOne GP Practices in line with each organisation’s set preference. NHS England has said that practices can choose to temporarily disable the functionality, to allow practices to enable the service at a convenient time, and can choose when to enable it, up until 4 July. From the 4 July the functionality will be enabled for all users and any organisations that still have the functionality disabled will have it set to ‘manually file’.

Over the coming weeks Pharmacy systems will start to send structured updates back to the patient’s registered GP practice, in phases. It means that whilst all SystmOne GP practices will have ability to receive the new structured update messages, we are not initially expecting high volumes of messages to be received through this mechanism.

Practices who choose to disable the functionality should be aware that consultation summaries will continue to be sent using NHSmail.

Information for GP practice staff

Update Record means that GP practice staff no longer have to spend time manually finding records and transcribing information from PDF letters sent by NHSmail. Records will be sent straight into the GP systems in a standardised format and practices can either choose to have them automatically filed into the patient record, or set the system so that they can be viewed by practice staff and the information can then be filed with the click of a button. This will save time, speed up the transfer of information to make updates to records more timely and reduce transcribing errors.

The messages will contain the same information as was previously received through NHSmail, they will just be easier to manage once they arrive in the practice system. Where messages do not arrive through Update Record, they will continue to be sent through by pharmacy staff as PDF attachments via NHSmail.

Urgent updates

Update Record will not be used for information which needs urgent or timely action and this has been clearly communicated to pharmacy staff. For anything urgent, pharmacy staff should continue to use their existing communication methods to contact the practice.

Data controller responsibilities for GPs

There is no change to the data controllership responsibilities of GPs, regardless of whether the message is received through Update Record or another way, such as NHSmail.

The content of the messages is the responsibility of the pharmacy staff as data controller and is managed through implied consent for direct care. Pharmacies have been provided with the appropriate transparency information to fulfil their duties.

Choosing when to enable Update Record

Update Record is designed to make the management of external consultations less burdensome, more timely, safer and consistent for practices.

Update Record will be automatically enabled at launch, but users can choose to temporarily disable the service and delay their switch on for up to 3 months. This will enable practices to start using the service at the most convenient time for them.

Practices who do choose to delay the functionality should be aware that this will slow down the speed at which messages get to the practice and will cause additional burden for pharmacy colleagues.

System suppliers will inform their users of the exact date when Update Record will be automatically enabled for any users who have not actively switched on the service. In this scenario Update Record will be set so that messages need to be accepted before they are filed into the patient record, but users can switch to auto-filing if they prefer.

Visibility of consultation information via Patient Facing Services and Summary Care Records

Different GP system suppliers manage the visibility of Update Record messages in different ways, some systems do not make the message visible in Summary Care Record or through patient facing services (including the NHS App) until the GP has filed the messages and for others it is visible as soon as it has been submitted. GP system suppliers’ user guides will provide more detail.
Pharmacists have been advised not to put any information into Update Record that should not be viewed via patient facing services or by clinicians in other care settings. There may be instances whereby a pharmacist will send the consultation information to a GP practice via NHSmail, including where there is a safeguarding concern or another reason why a patient may not want their consultation details visible via patient facing services (for example, proxy users).

A video demonstrating the functionality can be accessed here: https://tpp-uk.com/pharmacy-first/

Further information is available here covering these topics:

  • Benefits for patients
  • Information for GP practice staff
  • Information for pharmacy staff
  • Preventing antimicrobial resistance – keeping patients and society safe
First Published
29 March 2024
Updated On
1 July 2024
Due to be Reviewed
8 July 2025
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