Mr Hunt launched the government’s response to April’s Information Governance Review report led by Dame Fiona Caldicott, at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in central London, today.
Mr Hunt said that clinicians should ask patients to view GP patient records but said that in emergencies this can be overridden, if it is in the best interest of patients.
The health secretary said that any patient who does not want to have their personal data from their GP record shared with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), will be able to veto it. But patients cannot object to their anonymised data being collected from their GP patient records, by the HSCIC.
In its response, the government warned that practices with ‘an abnormal number of objections’ face being investigated by the BMA and NHS England.
NHS England is leading on Mr Hunt’s pledge to ensure patients have electronic access to their GP records by 2015. The DH said it will work with ‘partner organisations’ to consider how this is ‘might’ be extended to care records outside the NHS.
The DH’s response reads: ‘The DH will work with the professional regulators to investigate professionals who have undermined patient care by failing to share information effectively, and with defence unions to support professionals who share information in keeping with the standards and good practice contained in the review.’
In her report Dame Fiona recommended an audit trail so that patients can see who has accessed their records. The government said it will decide by the end of this financial year how best to achieve this. It has stated that this could include investing in ‘breach detection tools’ instead of creating a ‘viewable audit trail’.
Mr Hunt said: ‘I am expecting around a third of A&Es will be able to access GP patient records by the end of next year. And around a third of 111 call centres will be able to do so as well.
‘People will have to cross lots of bridges in order to make those kinds of changes happen.
‘As part of the chancellor's announcement of the £3.8bn joint NHS and social care fund, which will come in, in 2015, proper electronic data sharing based on the NHS number is a condition of accessing that funding.’