LMC Conference 2016: GPs demand the right to shred patient records

GP practices can never be truly paperless until NHS regulations allow the destruction of paper records and Lloyd George envelopes, the national LMCs conference heard.

Dr Anthony O'Brien, of Devon LMC, said the Edwardian statesman would be turning in his grave if he knew the envelopes bearing his name were still being used more than a century after they were introduced.

He was speaking to a motion calling for a major upgrade in the standards of technology in GP practices, including better connectivity with other services and improved broadband speeds.

Dr O'Brien told the London conference that the total removal of paper records was necessary but ambiguity in NHS regulations meant it was not clear whether GPs could destroy them.

'No one has officially decided that we can definitely shred all of the notes. They can all be digitised but can they be destroyed? The regulations are ambiguous.

'What's required is a simple and obvious decision from Simon Stevens or Jeremy Hunt so that we can get rid of paper records.'

Dr Violaine Carpenter, of West Hertfordshire LMC, said the continuing requirement to store paper records was having a major impact on space in cramped surgeries.

'It's farcical that we either have Lloyd George envelopes taking up valuable space or we have to pay private companies to store and transport them for us.

'Properly digitising records would free up clinical space, save millions of pounds over the years, and reduce our carbon footprint.'

The conference supported the motion that GP IT needed fully funded: improved support services; fast and reliable broadband connections; scanning, digitising and shredding of paper records; interoperability; a fit for purpose national primary care IT specification.

Full coverage: LMC conference 2016

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