E-records 'need patient consent'

A 'significant minority' of GPs are refusing to participate in the summary care record (SCR) programme, say researchers.

A report out this week from University College London found that at least two practices have pulled out of the programme because of ethical concerns about the system of assumed consent.

The electronic record programme allows hospital doctors to access a patient's GP records and medical history.

It is being trialled in a number of 'early adopter' areas before being rolled out nationally.

The researchers found that the shared record offered real benefits for treating patients in emergencies. However, some GPs see it as incompatible with their role in protecting patient confidentiality.

The report found that patients were unaware of the SCR programme, raising questions about whether consent could be assumed. It proposed shifting to a system under which NHS staff must ask a patient for their consent whenever they wish to look at their records. Dame Deirdre Hine, chairman of the BMA working party on IT, welcomed the report's recommendations.

'We would strongly urge that until these changes are made there should be no further roll-out of the scheme,' she added.

UCL report

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