GPs and nurses should copy patients into correspondence

Health minister Rosie Winterton will be writing to primary care professional bodies, urging them to encourage their members to copy patients into correspondence between clinicians.

Health minister Rosie Winterton
Health minister Rosie Winterton

The letter will be sent to the Royal College of Nursing, British Medical Association and General Practitioners Committee. The DoH believe that patients will be able to make better decisions about their condition and healthcare if they were aware of the content of letters sent between clinicians.

Ms Winterton will also invite these professional bodies to take part in a round table discussion to agree a consensus on how to push this issue forward.

DoH survey results

In a recent Department of Health survey, nearly seven out of 10 patients referred to a specialist in the last year said they had not received any copies of correspondence, with only a quarter saying that they had received copies of all letters.

Rosie Winterton says: 'Copying letters to patients is at the heart of creating a partnership between patients and their clinicians - it helps patients share in the decision making process about their care and make informed choices. One of the issues that patients frequently raise with me is that this is not happening nearly enough. Too few patients are routinely copied into their clinicians' letters and so are kept out of the loop on their care. The knock-on effect of this is that patients cannot participate fully in decisions about their care.'

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