GP data won't be shared if patient objects, DH says

Data from GP records will not be shared outside practices if patients object, except in emergencies, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Patient data: information will not be shared without consent
Patient data: information will not be shared without consent

Speaking at the launch of the Caldicott review, which called for frontline staff to share information more widely across primary, secondary and social care, Mr Hunt said the patient veto would only be overridden in ‘emergency’ or child abuse cases.

Data relating to any patient that does not want information held in their GP record to be shared with the Health and Social Care Information Centre will not be, the government confirmed.

In addition, identifiable information which has already been shared with the information centre can be removed on request, the DH said.

Mr Hunt said that the government will respond in the summer to the review, which called for patients to be given access to all their hospital, community and social service records within the next decade. It also called for an ‘audit trail’ for patients to see who had accessed their records.

Mr Hunt said huge savings could be made if data sharing is done well, which could cut down on time spent by GPs trying to track down information from secondary care.

He said: ‘The Caldicott review has been about striking the right balance between sharing people’s health and care information to improve services and develop new treatments while respecting the privacy and wishes of the patient.

‘If patients are to see the benefits of these changes we must respect the wishes of the small number of people who would prefer not to share this information. I firmly believe that technology can transform the quality of healthcare in this country, but we must always respect the fact that this is very personal information about an individual.’

Dame Fiona Caldicott will now also chair an independent panel to oversee and scrutinise implementation of the review’s recommendations and to provide advice on information governance issues.

Speaking at the launch of the review, Dame Fiona said: ‘The Information Commissioner’s Office has not fined any organisation for sharing data. They have all been for loss of data.’

Mr Hunt said: ‘It is just not possible for this report to go on a shelf and gather dust if we are going to achieve a paperless NHS by 2018.’

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