NHS IT chiefs in patient care record U-Turn
By Nigel Praities
Patients will be required to give explicit consent before their Summary Care Record is accessed, after Connecting for Health agreed to a fundamental overhaul of the way records are accessed.
The climbdown comes after the Summary Care Record Advisory Group called for a ‘refined consent model', where doctors will have to ask permission every time they access the Summary Care Record – a model already used in Scotland and Wales.
The move, which follows a recommendation from the Summary Care Record Advisory Group last month, marks a major victory for Pulse's Common Sense on IT campaign, which called for explicit consent. The official early adopter independent evaluation also recommended a change to the consent model, after finding widespread confusion among patients over the scheme.
A spokesperson for Connecting for Health said it was currently consulting stakeholders on the plans, with a view to a final decision at a meeting in September.
‘We have accepted the advice given us by our external stakeholder body, the Summary Care Record Advisory Group, and now wish to look actively at implementing a new approach to consent,' she said.
Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director for the Summary Care Record and a GP in Kilburn, north London, said the decision was based on confidentiality fears from NHS staff. ‘Even though technically we are providing very good controls over patient confidentiality NHS employees are not as sophisticated and are anxious about how they are using all this software,' she said.
Dr Braunold confirmed early adopter areas would migrate to the explicit consent model after they decided to officially join the national rollout.
Dr Bernard Newgrosh, a GP in the first area to adopt the scheme, Bolton, welcomed the change and said many patients were not aware who was accessing care record information about them. ‘Presumed consent was the wrong way of going about it. To have consent you need to actually get consent,' he said.