GPs are seeing more patients as an ‘unintended consequence’ of the NHS’s integrated patient records system, according to the chair of the BMA’s GP Committee
This is an edited version of an article published in pulsetoday.
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the system, which allows GPs and hospitals to share information with one another, has led to secondary care services redirecting patients to primary care practices to explain their hospital test results.
Speaking as part of an event at the Labour Party conference last week, Dr Vautrey explained he had seen this happening in Leeds, where he practises, and that it happens because GPs can provide the results more quickly than hospitals.
Commissioners in Leeds say they are “not aware” of patients being redirected but will speak with practices to investigate the problem.
Leeds became the first city to share GP patient records across the healthcare system in October last year, more commonly known in the area as the Leeds Care Record.
GP Connect – an NHS Digital programme – underpins the Leeds system and allows hospitals to share and view patient information and data with GP practices and vice versa.
During a fringe meeting at the Labour conference on 23 September, which looked at the use of technology in primary care, Dr Vautrey said the system is a “step forward” but also warned of the unintended consequences of more work for GPs.
He said: “It’s a step forward from where we’ve been before and it is a greater integration of information from practice point of view or a particular hospital point of view.
“They can see information on our systems in a way that they couldn’t before. They’re able to see patients in hospital settings in a better way as well.”
He added: “It does have unintended consequences, shall we say. It means now I can see all of the results from the hospital.
“What’s happening now is patients, when they ring the hospital for their results, they’re being directed to their GP to get the hospital results as we can provide them quicker than the hospital. So you end up seeing a few more patients than you would have.”
A spokesperson for Leeds CCG said: “In Leeds, we take a citywide approach to digital developments like the Leeds Care Record and work closely with colleagues across the health and care system to help make sure that the tools and applications we develop meet their needs and are used effectively.
“We’re not aware, either from data or feedback, that hospitals are referring patients to their GPs to get their results.”
They added: “However, we appreciate the concerns of LMC members and will talk to practices to find out more and look at what we can do to address any issues.”
Also speaking at the Labour Party conference was RCGP chair Professor Stokes-Lampard, who voiced concerns about the non-pharmaceutical supply chain in the event of a no-deal Brexit and warned it could lead to surgery closures if practices run out of basic supplies.