Wales General practitioner

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Patients' online access to records welcomed

Files of hospital notes 20147

Plans to give patients in Wales digital access to their general practice health information have been broadly welcomed by the BMA.

Health and social services minister Mark Drakeford has said patients will be able to access their records, book appointments and order prescriptions online, and use mobile devices to monitor long-term health conditions.

The Wales Government has also said patients would be able to have 'virtual' consultations with clinicians either through email or online video conferencing.

BMA Wales GPs committee deputy chair David Bailey said many of the initiatives are welcomed in principle, but questioned the viability of others.

He said: 'The vast majority of practices already allow online appointments and more and more of us are moving towards online repeat prescriptions, so I think that will be a reality in the fairly near future.

'I think there will be an option to access your pathology results in the not too distant future, because technically it's possible. It will probably present more of a training issue for GPs to try and make sure that they anticipate patients' needs in advance, if anything else.’

However, Dr Bailey added: 'Skype consultations are very different, and it is not something we've discussed about putting into the [GP] contract. We've also always taken a view that email consultations are potentially dodgy and I can't really see what possible advantage email offers over phone access.'

Announcing the plans, Professor Drakeford said: 'Our vision is for more interactive, personalised health and social services, allowing people to access services from wherever and whenever it’s convenient to them.

'Giving people more control over their care and access to their records is an important part of the notion of co-production — the recognition that health outcomes are maximised when the contribution of patients as well as practitioners is captured and put to work.'