Headlines: March 7th, 2001

Selected patients at two pioneering GP practices will this week be the first in the country to have direct on-line access to their own medical records.The pilots – in Derbyshire and Oxford – represent a step forward in reaching the target set in the NHS Plan to make electronic health records available to everyone by 2004.

The purpose of the trial is to explore how best patients can make use of the information, and also to monitor the attitudes and thoughts of doctors and other practice staff to the development.

During the trials, patients will be able to go into their local surgery and sit at a computer, in a private place, and view their own medical records. In Oxford the patients will have access to all their consultations for the last four years and other relevant information held on the practice computer. This will include their medication, any allergies, all GP and nurseconsultations for the last 4 years, and results of investigations and letters from hospitals.

In Derbyshire patients will be able to see a summary of their records plus any new material. Practice staff will be on hand to answer queries and provide any necessary training.

The aim is to help patients feel more in control of their own health and health care, plus lead to more informed consultations with their GP.

Results will be co-ordinated by the NHS Information Authority and used to inform the development of the Electronic Health Record, which will be available to every citizen by 2004, in line with the objectives of the NHS Plan.