Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Your medical details: accurate? too public?

Have you had a letter from the NHS about Summary Care Records?
I've just received one and, because of my chronic condition and past care, I have been having a serious think about the pros and cons of an electronic patient record that can be shared with all medical professionals.
I was wondering whether to take some of my GP's time to discuss it with them, but I wasn't in any hurry because I understood it could take until the end of the year to happen.
But unfortunately now there is a big bust-up between the British Medical Association and the NHS body called Connecting for Health because the latter is rushing the new records because of the election, according to the GPs' magazine Pulse.
My letter and the website link don't mention any deadline for opting out of the scheme (as you can choose to do, if you want) and the posted information is very upbeat about the development of the computerised records and the security of it once it is kept online.
But Pulse quotes a letter from the BMA to the health minister that warns of the new-style computerised records "being created without even implied or presumed patient consent" and says that GP practices are going to swamped by patients who have been rushed on to system and will suddenly need their latest prescription details added on at their next appointment.
I can see certain benefits to all medical professionals having access to my drug record and allergy information, but it seems that the NHS is taking the decision about whether or not I want this out of my hands very quickly indeed.
If you are uncertain about this, go to the website immediately and download a form to withhold your clinical data from the Summary Care Records: it seems this is the only way to stop this happening without your presumed consent. You can easily consent later, but your file is virtually impossible to delete once it is there.

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