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Medical defence bodies have attacked plans to give NHS fraudbusters extra powers to investigate GPs.

The NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service is pushing for powers to make unannounced visits to practices and to be able to take patients' notes without getting patient consent or a police warrant.

GPs who fail to disclose information could also be jailed under the fraud service's plans, detailed in a consultation document.

In its response, the Medical Defence Union said the extra powers would damage patient confidentiality and were unnecessary.

Dr Hugh Stewart, medico-legal adviser for the

MDU, said the police needed

to be brought in by investigators.

'There is no need for change given the overriding need for patient confidentiality,' he said.

The Medical Protection Society said 'the highest authority' should be sought before access to confidential records was granted.

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