In the past the DoH has said that, once created, patient records would remain permanently on the system. The costs of deleting records on patient request would be ‘prohibitive’, it said.
But the department has changed its position following discussions with the Information Commission, the official responsible for data protection. A spokesman said that ‘anyone can now request that their record is deleted’.
‘Our early adopter programme was set up precisely so we can learn from emerging issues such as this one,’ he added.
There will be an exception, however, where a patient's SCR should already have been accessed during the course of their care. In such cases records will be retained, in case needed for an investigation of a clinician performance.
But they will no longer be accessible in future episodes of care.
Meanwhile, Connecting for Health and the Medical Protection Society have published a list of frequently asked questions on the medico-legal implications of the SCR.
The FAQ warns that practices might be liable for any inappropriate access of a record committed by their staff.
It also argues that, ‘if GPs embrace the SCR in sufficient numbers, it will be harder and harder for individual practices to 'opt out' of the process as it becomes the established 'norm'’.
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