With many staff members working from home or off sick, practices are likely to find that resources are stretched.
The Department for Health and Social Care has issued an order under Regulation 3 (4) of the Health and Service Control of Patient Information (COPI) Regulations 2002 that allows practices to put aside their Duty of Confidentiality in order to share patient data where necessary to support each other and stop the spread of COVID-19.
As such, and to ensure patient care continues at an appropriate level, practices may arrange that neighbouring practices or partnered providers will “buddy” up and provide staff access to each other’s clinical systems so that they can support one another with patient care.
Should a practice then be required to close due to staff shortages, patients can be directed to the neighbouring practice who will be able to treat the patient as though they are their own.
By making these arrangements, practices are working towards making patient information available at the point of care in the event that their current practice is not able to provide services as normal.
It is acknowledged that this results in healthcare providers that do not have an historic legitimate relationship with the patient having access to records.
Additionally, this will possibly include colleagues, friends and family members.
It is concluded that, in order to comply with the order issued and to work in the interest of the public at large, the risks highlighted above should be accepted.
We have developed a protocol to support with this work and will continue to develop this as more information comes to light.
What Does the BMA Advise Around Cross Organisational Working?
The BMA states that practices will need to work together and may consider establishing locality hot, cold, respiratory and remote advice hubs. For example, a hub for those who need ongoing routine care, a hub for those with symptoms that may indicate COVID infection and who require care in the community, a hub for patients who might be more likely to contract COVID due to underlying conditions, and a non-patient facing hub to provide remote advice (particularly for at-risk staff). BMA Letter 19th March 2020
What About Issuing Smartcards Remotely?
NHS Digital have confirmed a process for registering new users where face to face meeting is not possible.