Frequently asked questions

Practices and patients frequently ask questions about the Patient Online programme. We have developed a list of these, with answers, below.


What are detailed coded records?

Detailed coded records hold medical information; GPs access this when in an appointment. This includes information about:

  • Demographics
  • Conditions/diagnoses,
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Immunisations
  • Results
  • Values (like blood pressure)
  • Coded information about procedures, referrals and consultations.
  • Some administrative information is also coded in the patient record.

Documents attached to the record, like letters, and free text are not included. You can set up an example patient so that staff can see how the system will look for patients. Sensitive information can be hidden from the patients’ view; how you do this is different for each system.

Will all registered patients automatically be able to see their coded information?

Patients cannot see their detailed coded record until the practice lets them by opening up access. Patients have to ask their practice for access and the practice should have a process for how to register patients. Before patients can register, the practice needs to confirm that the patient is who they say they are. When the patient is registered, but before they are given online access to their detailed coded record, the practice will need to check the record to ensure that no third party information is disclosed or any other information that may cause harm to the patient or any other person.

Is it possible to restrict access to parts of the record for some patients?

Not all systems are able to hide parts of the coded record, even if the GP has deemed it not to be in the patient’s best interest. If the clinical system does not let you hide parts of the information in the coded record then the GP would need to decide if that patient should have access at this time. If the GP decides the patient should not have access they need to talk this through with the patient.

Can a practice give access to records to children and young people?

Each practice decides if it wants to offer online services to children and from what age that access should be allowed. You can find more information on this in the training materials for GP practices which were made by NHS England and the RCGP.

Will safeguarding information be visible to a parent/carer?

When deciding whether or not an adult should be allowed access to a child’s record, the GP practice should think about any safeguarding information in the record. The practice should think about this when deciding if the child should have access to their own record too. Some clinical systems allow you to remove or hide parts of the information in the record, making them private. This could be done to hide sensitive information from the patient or adult wanting access to the record.

Do IDs need to be obtained each time a patient requests access to additional services?

No, you only need to check ID once when the patient first signs up for GP online services. Patients can get access to additional services without showing ID again. Some practices might ask patients to complete and sign a form to confirm that they would like access to additional services.

Safeguarding: Could you please clarify if ID is needed for a child under 11 when being signed up by the parent?

You do not need to do an ID check for children; you only need to ID check the parent when giving a family access to online services. You may need to ask to see the child’s birth certificate to confirm the relationship, unless someone in the practice can vouch for them. More information on this is available in the training materials made by NHS England and the RCGP for GP practices.

Is it possible to clarify the minimum data set currently required in terms of patient access to their records?

Practices need to offer patients full access to all coded information in their record if they ask for it. This includes:

  • Demographics
  • Conditions/diagnoses,
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Immunisations
  • Results
  • Values (like blood pressure)
  • Coded information about procedures, referrals and consultations.

Added documents like letters, free text and reminders are not included. GPs can stop patients accessing information that they think is not in their best interest to see.

Are there any posters, leaflets etc. available for practices to promote online services to patients?

Practices can now order all this for free:

  • Posters
  • Patient Information Leaflets
  • Promotional bunting, balloons etc.

Order from our website.

 Are promotional materials available in other languages?

Unfortunately we do not provide materials in other languages. It is the practice’s responsibility to adapt for their practice population.

Can patients use email accounts that they share with other family members?

Some patients share their email address with another person, this can be a problem when setting passwords or changing information. Please make sure patients understand the risks around having a shared email address when using GP online services.