IT agency consults on use of records

Confidential patient records could be used for medical research, Connecting for Health (CfH) has announced.

The NHS IT agency says that data aggregated from summary care records could be used to improve public health, and to research the prevention and treatment of disease.

It has launched a 12-week consultation, to ask patients and staff for their views, and to 'explain the benefits (and) legal safeguards'.

Sir Alex Markham, chair of the CfH's Research Capability Programme, said: 'The great majority of patients are willing to participate in medical research.'

But Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Warwickshire and campaigner for patient privacy, warned: 'Patient privacy is a prerequisite of, not a barrier to, good medical research.'

He cited research into the medical effects of drug use, which he said would be impossible if patients were not confident that their records would not be viewed by the police.

To access the consultation, go to www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/susconsultation.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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