Medical records are an important part of the GP-patient relationship. This page outlines the RCGP's position on a number of issues relating to patient records, including giving patients access to their records online and the need for adequate safeguards when patient data is used by the NHS to increase our understanding of diseases and population health need.
Understanding Patient Data have produced a useful resource for explaining what happens to health data and how large data sets are used, including social media graphics, posters and animations which practices may find helpful in discussions with patients.
GP Online Services
For a number of years, the RCGP has worked with government and other stakeholders to promote patient access to their records and to help general practice engage with online access safely and effectively.
- Find information and guidance in our GP Online Services toolkit
In 2021 and 2022, the RCGP has specifically engaged with NHS England’s Accelerated Citizen Access to GP Data programme which aims to see patients in England granted automatic access to new entries on their record from 1 November 2022. We have worked to ensure this change is implemented with care and with due regard to safeguarding risks, and we secured a delay from the original go live date of 1 December 2021 to allow more time for practices to prepare.
Public statements from RCGP on Accelerated Citizen Access to GP Data:
- 22 July 2022: RCGP responds to NHSE’s letter to GPs
- 11 March 2022: RCGP writes to the Secretary of State to express concerns about the current timeline
- October - November 2022: RCGP statement and updates on patients’ access to their GP records
General Practice Data for Planning and Research
The RCGP has been actively engaging with the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) programme, a plan for NHS Digital to collect data from general practice in England for healthcare planning and research purposes.
The RCGP has been working to see greater transparency, improvements to safeguards to protect the data collected and appropriate engagement with the public and clinicians. We are supportive of appropriate data sharing to improve public health but have always been clear that this must be done securely and in a way which maintains public trust.
Public statements and letters from RCGP on GPDPR:
- 8 June 2021 - RCGP welcomes the pause to the programme but says the time must be used to properly communicate with patients and clinicians
- 4 June 2021 - RCGP writes to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling for an immediate delay to GPDPR to allow time for a public engagement campaign
- 28 May 2021 - RCGP writes to NHS Digital to urge them to communicate more fully with patients and inform them of their options
- 12 May 2021 - RCGP responds to the announcement of GPDPR
In 2014, the RCGP publicly commented on plans to introduce a new system in England through which patient data will be used to better understanding diseases and the health needs of patients at a population level.
Read our Parliamentary Briefing on care.data (PDF file, 20 KB) from March 2014
RCGP Health Informatics Group
The RCGP's Health Informatics Group advises the College and other professional bodies on issues of information management and technology in general practice.