Editorial Comment

Access to GP Records and Prescriptions

Records CabinetSpeedy Transfer of GP Records

When using EMIS LV I was impressed by the immediacy of GP2GP records transfer system. Records arrived from the previous practice minutes if not seconds after the new patient had been registered. But when I moved to a practice using Systm One I found it irritating that it was not up to par with the EMIS system. I last worked in a surgery in early 2014 and at that time it was not possible to move records between the two clinical systems.

Two Tier system

Imagine my annoyance as a patient when I registered with a Cumbria practice last year using EMIS firstly as a temporary patient and then as permanent patient and more recently registered back with a practice in West Yorkshire only to find that my records had not been transferred at all.  I decided to investigate why and this included taking up my query with my Member of Parliament and the DH Minister.

Too bug to move?

After initially receiving a response telling me that all was possible, GP2GP transfers were working, I have now received a reply telling me the roll out of GP2GP transfer systems incorporating transfers between clinical systems is only 86% complete and what’s worse if you have a record that is 5mb or more is size it will not transfer anyway.

Lloyd George still rocks

So despite all the investment in GP Clinical Software Systems, we are still printing out reams of paper and sending the packages to the new practice who then have to find ever-growing shelf space to accommodate the old ‘Lloyd George’ record. Where is the incentive to summarise these records effectively I wonder? Essential information about my health care is not moving to my new practice quickly enough. However to be fair I did find that when attending another local practice in Leeds for an extended hours appointment the practice had access to my records and my medication records. So at least something in the world is right.

Life is now more complicated as patients can elect to have their prescription transmitted to their pharmacy of choice. Whilst this happens promptly you may still have to wait for it to be dispensed in the pharmacy next door once the human factor becomes involved. However, be careful that you have chosen your pharmacy of choice! You can change it and still have a paper prescription. So perhaps even with instant access to records, not everything in GP World is rosy. Perhaps I need  some new glasses……… can I see my record on my mobile phone?

Robert Campbell – September 2015


Editorial Comment

Is a 7 Day week for GP Services Achievable?

Free for ALL for GPs

The Royal College of GPs in it’s latest publicity drive says that it does not think that a 7 Day per week GP service is achievable as the new Conservative Government has pledged. The argument rests on the issue as to whether there are or will be sufficient GPs in post to revert to a 7 Day service. My view is that the problem lies in the fact that NHS England no longer has any controls on GP Manpower. GPs can set their own agenda, set their own working hours and DO NOT have to account to anyone, perhaps except their partners for the days, hours or sessions they work. This ‘free for all’ was introduced in 2004 by the Labour Government as part of the new deal for GPs.

Part time working prevails

A recent survey carried out by KingfisherPM ( and supported by Practice Index ( found that more than 50% of GPs now work a four day week. So what happened to Day Five. Prior to 2004 GPs had to obtain the prior approval of a Primary Care Trust to work less than 5 days. Approval to work anything less than a 4 day week was rare and needed to be associated with a ‘special reason’.

Approving Part time working

What could these ‘special reasons’ be? As a former Deputy Administrator of a Family Practitioner Committee, I found that probably the most common reason for requesting a shorter working week was ‘family commitments’. It was therefore, an application from a female doctor that was on the table to be considered. I do not recall such an application being refused but such applications were not numerous. After that it may have been a male or female doctor who had an outside commitment that required one or more days outside the practice each week. One doctor for instance was a GP Training Course Organiser. There was a tendency for GPs to undertake outside commitments but to do these in their own time and not reduce their working week. But times have changed. The reasons given for working ‘part time’ now include ‘preparing for retirement’, ‘working for the CCG’, ‘family friendly hours’, ‘better work life balance’, et al. GPs are starting their career in general practice working four days a week without a specific reason. Yet as GP Registrars they will have worked full time costing the NHS a full time salary.

Take Back Control, NHS England!

In 2015 my recent survey showed that a large proportion of GPs work four or less days a week. No reason will have been given to NHS England, unlike before 2004. The freedom given to General Practice to run it’s own affairs has effectively backfired. The general management of general practice is out of control and as such it will be very difficult to wield a big stick and marshal GP numbers, and sessional commitments into a general practice coral. More GPs and more funding is fine but the NHS needs to know and understand how these funds and extra manpower are used and if not why not!

Robert Campbell – Writer on general practice management