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RCGP warning over national patient record

Patient records must not be 'copied and pasted' into a new electronic system allowing notes to be shared across the NHS, the RCGP has warned.

In its response to a consultation on the Integrated Care Records Service, the college said only 'relevant' information from GPs' records should be put in the Government's planned national database.

Professor David Haslam, chairman of the RCGP council, said the move would counter GPs' worries they would face a 'huge logistical nightmare' if every past and future consultation had to be put in the central database of patient records, known as the NHS Spine.

GPs should be able to tell patients that sensitive information, such as a pregnancy termination, would not be included unless relevant, he added.

The Integrated Care Records Service is the central plank of the Government's NHS IT agenda and would give out-of-hours services, hospitals and ambulance trusts the ability to access patients' records.

Dr Haslam, a member of the advisory board to the scheme, said a starting date would be announced later this year.

'On that start date everybody's 'spine' will be empty. It need not be filled up with data from an average consultation. Initially it would just be really important things,' he said.

'The standard record GPs keep should not become available to everyone in the NHS.'

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC's IT sub-committee, said GPs did not have enough time in an average consultation to explain the project to patients and seek their consent to add anything to the national record. 'In practice, there's not enough time during a consultation,' he said.

'It's intended to be an accumulated chronological schedule, but from the feedback we've had nothing will go up as patients don't trust it.'

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