• Led by the NHS Alliance in partnership with InHealth Associates, NHS Lewisham, NHS Berkshire East PCT, the Royal College of GPs, and Diabetes UK.
  • Aimed to change the dynamic between the NHS and its service users, and between the individual and their health workers, by initiating a social movement for record access.
  • Tackled the cultural, organisational and psychological barriers to turning on patient access, and explored the factors that will allow practices to adopt the system.

This project aimed to change the relationship between patients and GPs by giving patients online access to their medical records. Evidence shows that this approach improves quality of care, shared decision making, safety, effectiveness and patient experience.

Key findings

  • Access to records can improve the GP service, support relationship change and help patients to feel more in control of their health.
  • For relationship change, records access needs to be embedded across all areas of the practice. The online system needs to work well and be easy for everyone to use.
  • Most patients signed up because they had a general interest in seeing their records.
  • Effective engagement with clinicians is critical to address concerns that online records access will add to their workload.
  • Practices should focus on people actively using the system, rather than on having a large number of patients signed up but not using it.

Challenges faced

  • Significant technical problems with the online records system, which meant that a large amount of time and effort was spent on helping practices and patients to use the system, rather than focusing on the outcomes of use.
  • Primary care clinicians face enormous time pressures and some were reluctant to add to their workload by engaging with records access.

The team developed to give patients information about accessing their medical records online, ahead of the 2015 deadline for everyone to be able to do this.

Who was involved

The project was led by the NHS Alliance (through its subsidiary the Primary Care Alliance Ltd) in partnership with InHealth Associates, NHS Lewisham, NHS Berkshire East PCT and clinical commissioning groups, the Royal College of General Practitioners Informatics Group, and Diabetes UK. It was also supported by PAERS Ltd – the system that enables patients to access their records. 

About this programme


Closing the Gap through Changing Relationships

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