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Gold, incentives and meh

Remember - our notes are our copyright

Dr Rick Freeman suggests our GP records should have commercial value. They should and I believe they do.

It is a well-known fact that the copyright on a GP's notes belongs to the GP, unlike a hospital doctor's notes which are owned by the Crown. I've had this confirmed by the Cabinet Office.

I believe certain benefits follow. We should, for instance, be able to charge an insurance company for using the notes in a commercial manner. When an insurance company requests a set of notes or a report, it does so by invoking the Data Protection Act, which is specifically drawn up to allow patients to see their own notes.

GPs usually provide copies of notes to the insurance company - which asks for them on behalf of the patient - but make no charge for using our intellectual property.

The situation is similar to the copyright law that covers purchasing a DVD - you are allowed to view the film personally, but not to use it in a commercial manner.

In this vein, when a patient or insurance company asks for a GP's notes, they should only use them for personal information, not for assessing a commercial risk.

When it comes to the NHS spine, the situation is a little different. GPs have to provide copies of medical notes to any doctor who is treating the patient (and rightly so). But a lot of the data that will go on to the spine will not be used directly by doctors treating individual patients.

It will be used by planners and statisticians. It will probably be used by PCT managers to draw up specifications for private companies that intend to bid against GPs for services.

There are sound commercial reasons why GPs should not allow their own intellectual property to be made available to parties that may use it in commercially sensitive ways.

I am so ashamed. But I feel better for getting it off my chest. I don't want to co-operate with them ever again. In fact, I've decided I won't. I feel a prolonged huff coming on.

Dr Gary Rogers, Fleggburgh, Norfolk

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