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New form will aid GPs over records access

A new form for patients to sign giving consent for solicitors to access medical records should help GPs adhere to the Data Protection Act, medical defence bodies have said.

The consent form, produced jointly by the BMA and the Law Society, will be used as good practice by solicitors.

It makes it clear to patients they are allowing the release of their entire medical records ­ not just relevant sections ­ when pursuing a personal injury claim.

The move has been prompted by GP concerns that patients are often unaware that giving consent means their full medical history will be revealed, including information about potentially embarrassing conditions. Under the Data Protection Act GPs can only release patients' records with fully-informed consent.

Dr Stephanie Bown, head of medical services in London at the Medical Protection Society, said: 'I think this is a welcome step.

'Sometimes patients do not give thought to what is in their records when pursuing a claim, but this puts everybody in a clearer position.'

But Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Kingsbury, Warwickshire, who has campaigned for patient confidentiality, said the system was still flawed as patients claiming for a leg injury in a car accident would in most cases still be obliged under the Act to reveal their psychosexual, STI or impotence history.

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