Concerns remain as DoH allows patients to remove data from care records

Patients in England will be able to request the removal of any part of their data on the national care record database, the DoH says.

They will also be able to ‘opt out of sharing’ the record across the NHS, it says.

The move represents a softening of the DoH stance on patients’ control over their records, but does not appear to allow patients to fully prevent their data appearing on the national database.

Health minister Lord Warner said earlier this month that patients who wanted to opt out of the record system would have to send to the DoH details of why their inclusion would cause them substantial and unwarranted distress.

He rejected attempts to opt out by a number of patients who he said had not demonstrated this adequately.

But under plans announced this week, GPs are not required to broach the subject with patients, although patients will be given a ‘defined and realistic’ period of time to review and change summary records before they are shared on the national database.

In pilots due to start in spring next year, patients who fail to check their records within the allotted time will be assumed to consent to their inclusion. They will also be able to ‘opt out of sharing, should they wish to’.

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said this did not address some ‘chief concerns’.

‘For us to support this, the patient has to have a full right for none of their record to be uploaded at all,’ he said.

The time period to allow people to check records would have to be at least six months to a year, he added.

The DoH proposals came in response to the findings of a care records taskforce led by DoH director for Patients, Harry Cayton.

The taskforce agreed that patient records should not contain sensitive information until technology to allow it to be ‘sealed off’ by patients is available.

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