Patient access to medical records will add to GP workload

Government plans to allow patients access to their medical records online from 2015 could create more work for GPs and threaten patient safety, GP leaders have warned.

The NHS Future Forum has recommended that patients should be given access to medical records.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the committee was concerned that the security of sensitive medical records could be put at risk. He added that queries from patients about their records could also create extra work for GPs.

Dr Buckman warned that online records may not be secure enough to stop third parties from accessing sensitive patient information. ‘How do you keep the records secure so only the person who should look at it looks at it?' he said.

Dr Buckman raised concerns that patients could be coerced to share their records with family, employers and insurance companies and a variety of other people who might wish to have access to them.

‘There are a variety of abusive and inappropriate relationships where the information stored on a person’s record is of interest to a third party,’ he said.

The GPC was also concerned that GP workload could increase due to patients attending with concerns once they had read their records.

‘Data having gone to the patient, the patient will read things that concern them and that will result in additional work for the practice.

‘It’s quite different when a patient sits at home looking at their own record, particularly because some of the medical terms are quite frightening.’

The GPC said that it would be concerned if any proposals were made in the future to enable patients to edit their own record.

‘That could potentially quite dangerous for the patient,’ Dr Buckman said.

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