Primary care minister says work, which will begin within a couple of weeks, ‘needs to be carefully done to minimise safety risks’
Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images
NHS Digital is to lead the process of transferring data on patients’ coronavirus test results from national government and health-service bodies to GP practices around the country.
Citizens suffering coronavirus symptoms have long since been advised not to go to their GP but, as of last month, to use the GOV.UK or NHS.UK website to book either a drive-through or self-administered test. Prior to launch of testing for the general public, government advice was simply to self-isolate unless symptoms were so severe that hospitalisation might be required.
All of which means that GP surgeries across the UK will not currently be in possession of information on whether their registered patients have suffered suspected or confirmed coronavirus.
Last week, the minister with responsibility for primary care, Jo Churchill, said that government was currently planning how best to transfer individual test results from national databases to local practices.
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“We are actively planning to get Covid-19 test results into individual general practitioner records in England,” she said. “NHS Digital are leading, working closely with the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association.”
Churchill added that the data-transfer programme – which covers only patients registered at the 7,000 GP surgeries in England – would take care to ensure security.
“[Work] needs to be carefully done to minimise any clinical safety risks and ensure it is done accurately,” she said. “We are expecting this to start within the next couple of weeks. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own processes relating to healthcare records.”
The minister was answering a written parliamentary question from Dame Diana Johnson, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North.