LONDON, February 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Pharmacists will gain access to a patient's Care Record for the first time under plans by NHS IT chiefs. Access has previously been limited to GPs.

In a key step towards Government proposals for pharmacies to take on more clinical work, pilots are being considered in community pharmacies across the country.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Director of Policy and Communications, David Pruce said:

Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals, with unique expertise in medicines use. Community pharmacists are highly accessible to the public, and well-placed to provide a range of healthcare services.

Access to care records by pharmacists will improve patient safety because pharmacists will be able to view the patient record, and be fully aware of what care a patient is receiving elsewhere. Access to care records will strengthen pharmacists ability to make the best possible decisions for their patients, and will enable them to develop new health promotion and screening services, for the benefit of patients and doctors alike.

Like other trusted healthcare professionals, pharmacists have a duty of confidentiality to their patients. Pharmacists already have access to care records in a variety of settings, including hospital wards and GP surgeries. Access to electronic care records in the community pharmacy will not present a risk to patient confidentiality.

As the subject of their patient records, it is ultimately the patient's decision concerning which health professionals can view their records. However, we believe patients and doctors will experience a clear benefit when pharmacists are able to access their records.

Notes to Editors

- Pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare professionals. Research has shown that the vast majority of the public has easy access to pharmacies: 99% of the population can reach a community pharmacy by car, by walking or by public transport within 20 minutes.

- An estimated 1.6 million people per day visit a pharmacy for any reason and 1.2 million per day in England visit a pharmacy for health-related reasons only.

- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation. The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy. The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums. Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010. For further information visit:

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit on +44(0)20-7572-2336

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit on +44(0)20-7572-2336