Patients' 'right to record consultations'

GPs cannot prevent patients from recording consultations and posting them on the internet, legal experts say.

GPs could be recorded on phones (Photograph: Getty Images)
GPs could be recorded on phones (Photograph: Getty Images)

This could apply to patients using mobile phones or other equipment to record sound or film consultations.

Dr Nick Clements, director of medical services at the Medical Protection Society, warned: 'The GP has a duty to see to the patients' medical needs. A GP who refuses to do that simply because he doesn't like how the patient wants to do the consultation may be failing in that duty. If the patient insists, I think the doctor probably has to go ahead.'

Modern medical records are in a 'variety of formats', including text messages and emails to and from patients, and recordings could become part of this mix, he said.

Recordings could protect doctors, he added: 'There are often disputes over what was discussed with patients. Video or sound recordings could act in doctors' benefit 999 times out of 1,000. If the doctor is behaving professionally and responsibly they should not be worried.'

But GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said if recording consultations became the norm, it could wreck the trust-based relationship between doctors and patients.

'I would behave differently in front of a camera especially if it was going to be broadcast.

I would be mindful of the fact that the next time I see this might be in front of a judge.'

But Dr Clements said: 'My feeling is that the world is always changing.'

Despite initial concerns, consultations without computers were now unimaginable, he said. 'It may be a cultural thing people will get used to.'

He advised GPs to ask for a copy of any recording, and said it may be possible to block a recording that had been edited and put online in a way that did not represent the GP fairly.

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