BMA advises on confidentiality

GPs who share patient records with their PCT could be breaking the law, the BMA has warned.

Barring certain circumstances with parameters clearly defined in law, GPs should not give up confidential records where a patient can be identified, according to new BMA guidance.

It warns that consent should always be sought by GPs before medical matters are shared.

Written or verbal consent is preferable to implicit consent although patient confidentiality is never absolute and information about a patient's medical background can be offered up when it is in the public interest, according to the BMA.

If in doubt, GPs should contact the DoH's Patient Information Advisory Group which can overrule common law confidentiality.

The guidance advises GPs to anonymise data supplied to academics. If a patient objects to information being shared, the GP must respect the wish.

If information is to be shared, GPs must make sure patients are made fully aware of reasons for sharing their medical records with a third party.

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