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 currently being trialled in a number of ‘early adopter' areas before being rolled out nationally.
The researchers found that it 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 many patients were not aware 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 Deidre 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.
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