GPs, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists put spotlight on ‘clunky’ systems during expert witness session at Holyrood

Data sharing concerns raised by primary care practitioners at Scottish Parliament inquiry


Primary care professionals working on the frontline of health and care in Scotland have aired their concerns about the effec- tiveness of data sharing between different parts of the NHS and community care providers during a parliamentary inquiry at the Scottish Parliament. Representatives from profes-

sional medical bodies including GPs, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists raised a series of ICT issues including “clunky IT systems that don’t talk to each other” in a hearing of the Health & Sport Committee at Holyrood last month. In phase two of the Primary

Care Inquiry – which is designed to help politicians understand what health and care services should ‘look like’ for the next generation – expert witnesses agreed that communications channels between service provid- ers are in need of improvement and that patients need to be more in control of their own data.

David McColl, Chair of the Scottish Dental Practice Commit- tee, British Dental Association, said: “We feel that IT integration is crucial to everything that hap- pens in health. And what we have at the minute is clunky IT systems that don’t talk to each other. Even within secondary care they have systems that don’t talk to each


other and they can’t measure exactly what they’re doing. We can’t interface with secondary care very well. We have a very, very clunky referral system called SCI Gateway which was a bolt-on service to the dental stuff that we have. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes to fill in any field; there’s nothing that pre-populates and… we need access to electronic care summaries as we spend an inordinate amount of time with patients going through medical histories, getting updated medical histories. And I think if we had that and some type of electronic form it would really help prac- tice.” Jonathan Burton, Chair, Scot- tish Pharmacy Board, Royal

Pharmaceutical Society, said: “I think it’s fair to say that when you’re talking about integration of healthcare it’s very difficult to integrate services when the pro- fessionals within those services can’t easily communicate with one another. “We see this in pharmacies and

community pharmacy practice and it’s echoed across some of the other contractor professions that sit outside the GP surgery model that it’s difficult for us to get ac- cess to patient records. Tere are changes starting to occur in some areas of Scotland but still access to basic electronic care summa- ries is not part of commonplace practice in a community phar- macy, but also from a pharmacy

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