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Don't lose control over records

Loss of control over patient records would be contrary to the Hippocratic concept, the GMC Good Practice codes and any other ethical code of practice you might care to mention. Every doctor contributing to pooled data would, and in my view should, be immediately at risk of a GMC disciplinary hearing. The two issues are:

1. What do we do about attempts to buy our systems and the data they contain?

2. What approach do we take to the wider NHS?

The answers are simple:

1. Regarding our equipment, the NHS can own all our equipment if it wishes, as long as we insist on maintaining ownership of our data servers, or at least their hard disks. If we have to pay for their maintenance ourselves then so be it.

2. As far as the wider NHS is concerned, appropriate levels of confidentiality in a system as large as the NHS will never be practical to implement. Therefore, we should:

·Not pool patient data ­ the benefit is far less than is being assumed by the mandarins.

·Stick to the time-honoured system of transferring appropriately selected sets of data by way of specific referrals, much as we do now.

·Only send electronic referrals to recipient systems that are also appropriately isolated ­ which they are not.

Finally, if all else fails, we will have to make our point by reverting to paper records ­ anathema, yes, but it may become necessary.

Dr Malcolm Gerald



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