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Independents' Day

Ministers forced into concessions over Care Record

Patients given more control on data but GPs concerned over workload

The Government has softened its controversial proposal to force patients to have their data uploaded onto the NHS Care Records service.

Patients in five pilot areas to begin next spring will be able to vet their records before they are put on the spine. This will be done either online through the HealthSpace portal or via print-outs from their GP.

Roll out of HealthSpace will also be speeded up so it is in place in time for at least half of the pilots. Patients can then give explicit consent to share their record and state what data they want kept secret.

Ministers have made the concessions after concerted pressure from GPs and patients for an explicit 'opt in' to the record.

A taskforce on the summary Care Record also this week recommended patients should be able to veto their data being moved onto the spine. Patients in pilot areas should be targeted via a public information programme and informed of the deadline to check their proposed record, it concluded.

GPs welcomed the concessions, but warned the revised proposals could mean a huge workload for practices, with thousands of patients asking for a copy of their record.

The Government has also still not worked out how to deal with patients who do not want a summary care record at all. It has set up a further advisory group to tackle the issue.

Lord Warner, health minister, said the consent model would result in 'some costs' to GPs, but implied doctors in potential pilot areas had agreed to take on the work.

He said: 'The 50 PCTs who put themselves forward for early adopter status have had to demonstrate that professional executive committees have supported this. We can only reasonably assume GPs in these areas are willing to put the effort in.'

Dr Trefor Roscoe, a GP in Sheffield and a member of the GPC IM&T subcommittee, said the Government should pay GPs data protection fees upfront if it expected practices to provide patients with printed copies. 'We would have difficulty saying "we can't discuss this, this is not part of the contract" because the Data Protection Act would apply,' he said.

'There's the potential for a huge amount of unpaid work.'

Care Record concessions

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