GPs will have to update the Summary Care Record daily and give patients online access to their SCR information under the new General Medical Services contract for England.

As reported in EHI last month, the government’s promise that all patients will have online access to their GP record by March 2015 has been redefined to mean online access to their SCR.

The government’s proposed requirements that practices offer patients online viewing of their test results and secure electronic communication with their GP have also been removed.

Details of the new GP contract, agreed by NHS Employers and the General Practitioners Committee of the BMA, have been released today and will come into force on 1 April 2014.

The new contract will see a reduction of more than a third in the size of the Quality and Outcomes Framework.

During the next financial year, GPs will provide online transactional services to patients, such as booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions. They will update the SCR daily and allow patients to access the data online.

Around half of all practices in England are already offering appointment booking and ordering repeat prescriptions electronically.

Under the new contract must use the NHS number in all clinical correspondence and transfer patient records using the GP2GP facility.

As part of the transparency and choice agenda, the Friends and Family test will be introduced for GPs from December 2014 asking patients how likely they are to recommend a GP practice.

And when the Care Quality Commission’s new inspection arrangements are introduced, practices will be required to display the inspection outcome in their waiting room and on the practice website.

One of the government’s proposed contract changes for 2014-2015 was called “improving online access to GP services” and included GPs offering patients online viewing of test results, secure electronic communication with the practice and online access to their medical records.

However, these requirements do not appear in the new contract.

Chair of the GPC, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, this month praised NHS England’s “measured approach” to introducing patient records access. He told EHI this is necessary to make sure that the GP profession is kept on board and information governance and security issues can be resolved.

A BMA spokesman said today that a number of IT-related changes have been negotiated.

"These changes have been made in the context of the government’s commitment to provide all NHS patients with online access to their record by 2015, including electronic booking, cancelling of appointments and ordering of repeat prescriptions, and to work towards a paperless NHS by 2018.

"The BMA will continue to work the government, NHS England and NHS Employers, with implementation informed by the Royal College of General Practitioners’ patient online road map."

NHS England’s director of strategic systems and technology, Beverley Bryant, said: “whether it is doing our banking or buying our shopping, we now expect to have the option to do every day things online.

“The facility to interact with our local health services such as GP surgeries is however not yet as advanced.

“I’m therefore delighted with these changes that build on the facilities that some GPs surgeries already offer such as online appointment booking or repeating a prescription.

“This will make it part of the standard service for patients. Not only will it be more convenient for patients, it will free up time for GP surgeries to focus on direct, personalised patient care.”

NHS England’s Patient Online programme lead Kathy Mason told EHI last month that the ambition is still for GPs to provide patients will online access to their full GP record.