GPs given no advice over Choose and Book worries

GPs must decide for themselves if they should use the Choose and Book system despite fears that it leaves sensitive clinical information about patients unprotected, the GPC says.

GP revealed last week that thousands of practice staff equipped with smartcards could access patient records from any practice in England, including details of Choose and Book referrals (GP, 3 February). The problem was raised by GP Dr Kesten Challen from Calverton, Nottinghamshire.

The Medical Defence Union said GPs should not use the system if they were concerned patient data was not safe.

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said practices must satisfy themselves that all staff with access to the system were aware of the high level of respect for confidentiality it required. Patients should also be made aware of any implications of using it.

Dr Vautrey added that concerns could have been avoided if GPC IT experts had been allowed to test the system and if patients had been consulted.

A spokesman for Connecting for Health said that 'senior staff are considering the issues'.

nick.bostock@haynet.com

- Opinion, page 25.

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