New watchdog to see named notes
The Government is proposing to give the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection powers to access named patient records without first gaining consent.
Under new proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill, CHAI will be able to demand the records from GPs when it considers it 'necessary or expedient'.
Its predecessor, the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) can only access anonymised records.
The GMC said the change breached its guidance on confidentiality.
'We believe that if they used anonymised data they would serve their purpose while protecting privacy,' a GMC spokeswoman said.
CHI said it had been 'difficult and time consuming' using anonymised records and defended the move.
A spokesman said: 'If you were looking at screening services you might need to contact hundreds of thousands of patients for consent.
'Getting consent takes time. In circumstances that require immediate attention, further delay may cause harm to patients.'