MPs back detailed e-record database

A national database containing summary patient details with the capacity to hold more sensitive information should be set up immediately in England, according to the House of Commons' Health Committee.

In a report published last month, the committee studied patient care systems and felt they had enormous potential, especially for treating patients with multiple conditions.

The National Programme for IT has already installed plans to give staff access to patient records. It will also be possible for registered staff to access more personal details if a patient consents. This detailed care record could include information such as a patient's HIV status.

The embryonic HealthSpace website, which allows patients to access their own records, represents a great advance in healthcare and should be rolled out immediately, the committee said.

Patients should also be able to insist on protecting some details with a 'sealed envelope' where parts of the record will require pass codes for access, the committee recommended.

It also found that where pilots had been conducted, there were concerns over how consent to access records was communicated. More staff training in how to use the system is vital.

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