At present, SCR uses a system of 'presumed consent', whereby patients will be included unless they opt out. But research has found that most patients are not aware of the programme, raising questions about the ethics of this system.
Carol Clarke, director for stakeholder engagement for the system, said that consent was ‘fundamental', and that implied consent was under review. ‘We're absolutely clear we must go back to the drawing board and start with a blank sheet of paper,' she said.
She said Connecting for Health was looking at the system used in Scotland and Wales, where clinicians must get patients' consent before viewing their record. But she warned that ‘it's difficult to sit down every patient and ask their permission' before their records are uploaded.
A motion at this week's LMC conference will call for no data to be added to the database ‘without the patient's expressed consent'.