Backing for access to patients' records

The Information Commissioner's Office has given its support to patient record systems that allow open access to health professionals, despite many concerns among GPs surrounding confidentiality.

According to the personal records watchdog, systems that give access to patient records to those that are not directly involved in their care are unlikely to fall foul of the Data Protection Act.

A spokeswoman said that the commission had taken into account the need for a number of health professionals to gain access to information in many cases as well as their ethical integrity.

She added that a further safeguard against data protection infringement was having an audit trail to detect when records were inappropriately accessed.

Joint GP IT Committee chairman Dr Paul Cundy, who is concerned about confidentiality over a blood test system at his local hospital, St Helier, in Carshalton, South London said: 'It is not good enough to say that relying on professionalism means that there will not be an infringement. More secure systems need to be in place.'

Also concerned is Dr Harry Yoxall, LMC secretary in Somerset, where earlier this year GPs complained after a hospital employee looked up records of someone they were personally connected to.

'What I would like to see is a more secure system. We've been assured that there is an audit trail to prevent this, but that is only looked into when a complaint is made. What I'd like to see is random checking,' he said.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that in the absence of more sophisticated systems he felt confident that professionalism and data trails were good enough deterrents to records system abuse.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

NHS prescription and packet of pills

GPs can now prescribe flu antivirals on the NHS

GPs and other prescribers are now able to issue NHS prescriptions for antivirals...

GP sign

Prevention set to be key battleground for 2024 GP contract

Negotiations on a new GP contract from 2024/25 will need to 'align closely' with...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: What makes a strong PCN and how will integrated care systems affect networks?

Talking General Practice speaks to GP and PCN clinical director Professor Aruna Garcea,...


GP core funding rise outstripped by staff pay awards under five-year contract

Staff pay awards have outstripped increases in core GP practice funding between 2019/20...

BMA sign

Fifth of GP time spent on non-medical work as NHS absorbs cost of 'government failure'

Doctors are 'picking up the pieces of government failures' as the cost-of-living...


How the five fundamentals of COPD care can help GPs support patients

GP Dr Andrew Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma + Lung UK, explains NICE’s five...