Patient consent needed for hospital record access

Hospital clinicians will be expected to obtain a patient's consent before accessing their patient records, Connecting for Health (CfH) has confirmed.

A spokesman said that the agency had accepted the recommendations of the Summary Care Record Advisory Group. In order to improve security, patients will now be asked if their records can be viewed when they go into hospital.

The only exception will be if a patient is unconscious and no relatives can be reached.

The pilot schemes currently underway have used an ‘implied consent' system, where a patient's records are uploaded to the database unless they specifically opted out. The implied consent model will continue in practices.

But an evaluation of the scheme published by researchers at University College London in May warned that many people were not aware of the care record systems. It said this raised questions about the ethics of ‘implied consent', and called for Connecting for Health to improve security by using a system of ‘consent to view'.

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