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GPs doubt security of the NHS Care Record

By Steve Nowottny

Nine in ten doctors believe patient records will be at risk if uploaded to a national NHS database, a BMA survey has found.

A poll of 219 doctors found 93% had no confidence in the Government's ability to safeguard patient data online, and 90% did not feel in a position to assure patients their data would be safe.

81% said they would not want their own records stored on a central database.

The poll suggests GPs' confidence in the proposed Summary Care Record has fallen even further in the wake of a number of high-profile government data losses. A Pulse survey last April found just over 80% of GPs saw electronic care records as a threat to patient confidentiality.

Dr Sally Simmons, a trainee cardiologist in Wiltshire, had her personal details published in the MTAS security breach, then had her bank details lost by HM Revenue and Custom after two CDs with details of 25 million child benefit claimants went missing.

‘Not surprisingly, I have no faith in any form of IT security that this government proposes,' she said.

But Dr Meg Thomas, a GP in Newbury in Berkshire, said: ‘There may be a risk but paper records are also going astray. We need to join the 21st century and quick.'

The findings also present a challenge for the BMA leadership. Last summer, the BMA's annual representatives meeting adopted a policy of non-cooperation with the care record rollout over confidentiality fears. But since then the association has avoided picking a fight with the government over IT security, insisting it will wait for the findings of early adopter pilots before advising GPs.


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