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Care records are a company boss's dream

If I were an entrepreneur looking to cash in on the NHS or set up an APMS practice, then the Summary Care Record would be a godsend. Imagine the possibilities:

  • Locums flown in from the least expensive English-speaking source, with use of the electronic care record to protect against accusations of loss of continuity.
  • Call centres based overseas with access to the electronic record, giving telephone advice 24 hours a day, and allowing local staff cuts.
  • Responsibility for follow-up passed electronically back to the remaining NHS GPs.

Has anyone considered the commercial value of our record-keeping? I have spent 10 years compiling, correcting and updating my records. Why are we allowing the Government to nationalise them? Could anyone imagine lawyers or accountants - or for that matter Virgin Healthcare - handing over all their sensitive and valuable records simply to facilitate the work of their competitors?

The vast majority of normal, reasonably healthy individuals will see little or no benefit from electronic records. What is needed, if anything, is a register for those at risk, particularly the frail elderly or those with severe mental health problems.

And the NHS spine is proposing to make everyone's medical records (apart from the favoured few) available from thousands of terminals around the country. It will be simply impossible to prevent access; it will be impossible to stop staff wandering off to the loo or for a cup of tea and forgetting to pull out their smartcards. How much will it cost a private investigator to buy confidential information from a lowly paid NHS worker? The data will be open to compromise all over the country from day one.

From Dr Rick Freeman, Northampton

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