PCT postpones telephone support service

A PCT in Merseyside has postponed the introduction of a new telephone support service, after an outcry at plans to transfer patient records to a private company.

Patients at practices who sign up to the ‘Wirral Keep Well’ scheme will be able to phone the service for support and advice. Wirral PCT says it will help people with long-term conditions to manage their health.

But the trust has been criticised for its failure to consult patients before allowing Health Dialog, the American company behind the scheme, to access their medical records. Patients were notified by a blue postcard in the mail that they had just two weeks to opt out of the service.

‘I should not have to write a letter to my doctor’s practice to stop this,’ one patient, quoted in the Wirral Globe newspaper, said. ‘This is an invasion of privacy which should not be going ahead unchecked.’

A PCT spokesman said the system’s introduction would be delayed for a ‘few months’ while the PCT addressed issues around consent and data security.

He said all personal data would be secure.

Fifty three of the PCT'’s 61 GP practices had signed up for the Wirral Keep Well Service. Four have dropped out following the negative publicity, however.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

  • See GP’s August 22 edition for the full story

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