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Consent row over e-record

GPs have hit out at Government plans to automatically include all patients in a national electronic record without getting individual consent.

The GPC said the decision not to ask patients before loading their notes onto the Care Record ran contrary to the standard NHS practice of getting explicit consent before sharing patient information.

Breaking the convention could threaten the doctor-patient relationship as many patients would be unaware of how their record was being used. A paper presented to the committee's January meeting said it was 'far better to build up the summary record slowly but with high confidence.'

The GPC demanded Connecting for Health adopt an 'opt in' model for the first upload of information to the Care Record, due later this year. The RCGP's ethics committee and health informatics group agree.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said GPs could get patients' consent opportunistically. But Dr Gillian Braunold, a GP clinical lead at Connecting for Health, said this would be a huge amount of work. She said: 'Explicit consent is the gold standard but translating it into reality is difficult. I don't believe I could consent 7,500 of my patients.'

A publicity campaign would ensure all patients were aware of the proposals and give them the opportunity to opt out, Dr Braunold said.

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