Data secrecy fears may lead GPs to keep separate records
GP computer experts have warned the contract would compel practices to keep their own private set of electronic patient records or revert to
GPs fear PCOs will shift all GP records to their own central computer when they take over ownership of practice IT systems through the contract.
The move would be cheaper for PCOs than running separate systems for each GP.
GPs had believed they would keep records on computers at the practice and only feed data to the PCO to check their status against the quality and outcomes framework.
The alert came after the Government announced plans to keep patient records for the entire UK population on a central computer system.
Ministers last week put the multi-million pound contract to run the integrated care record service out to tender.
Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC's IT sub-committee, said GPs would not trust PCOs to maintain confidentiality.
'The whole thing about centralist records or Government-provided records is the issue of confidence. If GPs don't have confidence in them, they won't use them,' he added.
'There's a very real possibility GPs will have two systems and only use the NHS system for less sensitive information.'
Dr Paul Steventon, chair of computer society Doctors' Independent Network, said many PCOs believed they were paying for GPs' patient records as well as their hardware and software.
He added that GPs would be 'acting like spies' if PCOs took over their records. 'We promise patients we will keep their medical records confidential,' said Dr Steventon, a GP in Ewell, Surrey.
'When they're accessible to people all over the country for reasons not in our control we're reaping information for the Government to do what it likes with.'
The Department of Health last week told PCOs practices should not be 'forced or coerced' to change their computer systems after complaints from GPs.