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Fresh call for patient opt-in to Summary Care Record

LMC leaders have issued a stark challenge to NHS IT chiefs over the rollout of the Summary Care Record, in a fresh call for an end to implied consent and a return to an opt-in model.

A GP from the first area in the country to pilot Summary Care Records went head-to-head with the medical director of the project at the LMCs conference, warning that GPs were 'sleepwalking into a very bad dream.'

Dr Chris Woods, from Bolton LMC, said: 'Bolton LMC has woken up and now it's time for conference to wake up and rise up in opposition.'

'This Government cannot be trusted with personal information.'

Dr Woods added that just 13 out of the 55 GP practices in Bolton had so far started uploading patient records, and warned doubts remained over the effectiveness of public information programmes.

'The University College London independent review found despite letters, leaflets, adverts etc, less than a third of patients were aware of the Summary Care Record. How can patients give implied consent when they're not aware?'

Dr Francesco Scaglioni from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LMC added: 'Implied consent is how you get the answer you want. Active opt-in is the only ethically acceptable confidentiality arrangement.'

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director for the Summary Care Record and a former GPC member pointed out that Connecting for Health had switched to a consent-to-view model, whereby records are uploaded by implied consent but patients are asked for explicit consent before they are accessed.

'The Summary Care Record is going to be of increasing value to those of us working in out-of-hours and Darzi centres,' she said.

But delegates voted in favour of an opt-in approach and resolved 'when releasing information on named patients it is not sufficient to assume implied consent.'

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