NHS England is running a ‘Health Online Programme’ working towards 100% electronic referrals and patient access to their records online.

NHS England has published its Business Plan for 2013-14 – 2015-16, called ‘Putting Patients First‘, which explains how it will deliver its mandate from the government.

It says the Health Online Programme, “makes use of modern technology to transform the service offer of the NHS, empowering patients and citizens to take control and make informed choices."

As part of this, people will have online access to their health records if they want it, by March 2015.

Half of all practices will offer the facility to order repeat prescriptions and to book appointments by April 2014 with 100% achieving this by March 2015, the plan says.

All practices will have the technical capability to allow people to access their records by April 2014 and 100% will be offering this option to patients by March 2015.

Data available on the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s Indicator Portal reveals that just 61 GP practices in England are offering patients full online access to their records.

A survey by EHI Primary Care and doctors.net.uk earlier this year also found that the overwhelming majority of GP practices were not ready to implement the government’s flagship NHS IT pledge.

The Indicator Portal figures show that access to transactional services is much more common. More than one third of practices are already offering patients online access to test results or the option to book or cancel appointments online.

The business plan also says that NHS England will consult, by June 2013, on plans for provision of patient access to interoperable records across the pathway of care.

The Health Online Programme includes the re-launch of e-booking service Choose and Book, which aims to make electronic referrals universally available to patients and health professionals for all secondary care services by March 2015.

NHS England’s target is to have 100% of referrals made electronically by March 2017.

The board’s planning guidance issued last December indicated it was aiming for paperless referrals by March 2015, however this has been pushed back two years.