The Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) has called for pharmacists to be given the power to write into the patient record in an interim white paper which outlines a plan for a national strategy for self-care.

In the paper the PAGB sets out its belief that read-write access to records will ensure medication and advice or services given to people who come to the pharmacy can be recorded consistently.

“In this way, information about medicines and other pharmacy services and interventions would be comprehensive and accessible across all NHS healthcare settings, facilitating continuity of care and allowing for a joined-up approach throughout the system,” the PAGB said.

The trade association, which represents manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements, said read-write access would reduce GPs’ workload and “reassure people that full information about their medical history is accessible across NHS services.”

The PAGB added: “This could have a significant benefit for the 15 million people living with long-term conditions, in particular, who have more complex healthcare needs and may access different NHS services more frequently.”

Company Chemists’ Association chief executive Malcolm Harrison said: “We fully support PAGB recommendations to empower pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with read and write access to patient records.

“We believe this would help to revolutionise the way in which community pharmacies work together within the rest of the NHS, whilst providing reassurance for both the individual and their healthcare professional team that information about medicines use is being checked and updated regularly.”

Other recommendations for a long-term vision on self-care include introducing ‘recommendation’ prescriptions for GPs to issue to patients – prescriptions designed for GPs to recommend over-the-counter treatments and self-care advice for people with self-treatable conditions.

The PAGB noted in its white paper that the model has worked effectively in Germany, with 91% of patients given a Grüne Rezept purchasing the recommended medicine from a pharmacy.

“Patients remembered their doctor’s recommendation and on experiencing repeat symptoms, went directly to pharmacists without visiting their GP first,” the PAGB said.

The PAGB also wants to see the roll-out of NHS 111 pilot schemes to improve signposting to self-care, inclusion of self-care as “a key requirement” in the professional training curricula for GPs and other healthcare professionals, expansion of the Stay Well Pharmacy campaign and for community pharmacists to refer and fast-track patients to other healthcare professionals.