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Is email plan just marketing for care records?

Connecting for Health's new Communicator function is just another way to try to sell the Summary Care Record to patients, isn't it?

To use Communicator you have to have a Healthspace account. To have a Healthspace account you have to have had your medical records uploaded to the Summary Care Record - in other words, not opted out.

You don't need to upload your data to the NHS Database to email your GP, as long as your GP is happy to receive emails.

The Data Protection Act already gives patients the right to access their own - and full - health records as held by their GP surgery; they just have to ask. In fact, some GP surgeries are already offering patients the ability to access their medical records securely online, for example through EMIS Access.

Patients do not need to upload their records to the NHS Database to do this.

What next? Amazon gift vouchers if you agree to upload your record?

Dr Neil Bhatia, Yateley, Hampshire

I have been responding to patient emails for about four years now without any problems.

These tend to be for very simple problems so it often saves an appointment.

This is on normal email and works fine - the patient is aware of the security issues via a long disclaimer on our website and a footnote on all my replies.

If I am worried about the sensitivity of the information I ask the patient to phone or visit me.

Why does the Government always have to take over? No doubt our speed of reply and response rate will be monitored and outliers 'spoken to'. I would be happier emailing my GP by normal unsecure email than through a super new NHS secure (I don't think so) system any day.

Dr Tim Watson, Stowmarket, Suffolk

GPs already provide telephone contact, which is a two-way instantaneous rapport. This has been very successful and I am sure the patient prefers to hear a reassuring voice rather than face a string of letters wrongly typed. Emails are also insecure.

What the Government really wants, if I am correct, is not to use email but instant interactive messaging.

This means we GPs will have no time to see patients face to face but be slaves to our computer screens.

Dr KS Pandher, Kidlington, Oxfordshire

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