GPs warn walk-in-centre 'endangering patient privacy'

Details of consultations at a West Midlands Darzi centre are being transmitted back to practices, even when a patient requests anonymity.

Dr Grant Ingrams
Dr Grant Ingrams

The Solihull centre is using System One, an IT system that allows practices, as the main holder of patient records, to withhold information from walk-in centres and other users.

But a glitch means that - where a practice is also using System One - details of consultations are reported back to a patient's GP automatically.

Dr Grant Ingrams, secretary of the West Midlands LMC, said he was shocked that the Darzi centre could not guarantee security. 'Patients may opt to use a walk in centre for anonymity and the last thing they would expect of a new service is that their privacy cannot be protected,' he said.

Solihull PCT had told him that the glitch will be fixed in version four of the software, he said. But this is not expected to be available for several months.

Dr Ingrams laid the blame for the problem on the haste with which the new centre was opened. 'It's not a huge problem,' he said, 'but it's one of those things that noone thought about before they did it.'

A spokesman for Solihull PCT said that the computer system 'maintains the privacy and confidentiality of a patient’s details and does not share these if the option to keep the patient’s visit ‘private’ is selected.'

He added that the PCT was working with practices to ensure staff were 'conversant' with all the system's privacy features.

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