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GPs to have new 'duty to share' confidential patient data


It's an unfashionable view, and I'm not sure where I stand on this yet, but... People in the UK get most of their care free - or heavily subsidised at the point of delivery. In order to maintain the most efficient health care services, we need data about their usage. We also need to be able to link records for example to monitor the effects of an intervention. It is not impossible to get this with completely anonymised data - you need to see if the person who got intervention x went on to have complication y or positive outcome z. Part of the quid pro quo to the cheap/free medical care could, quite reasonably, consent to your pseudonymised data - used very carefully - in this way. Another issue was raised yesterday by the Department of Health media centre who tweeted: 'DH Media Centre @DeptHealthPress "Medical notes should be available everywhere in the system whenever a patient consents - care home, hospital, GP surgery and 111"' I have recently been involved in managing a serious untoward incident in which a patient died, partly at least because of a failure of communication between different health sector bodies - a failure that might not have occurred if rules on sharing information were relaxed. Requirements that block such sharing does cause deaths, and no doubt less serious adverse consequences. From an ethics point of view - how many deaths and serious adverse incidents need to be avoided to outweigh the very minor incursion into the perceived "rights" of many people that would arise if hospitals could routinely access their GP notes and vice versa?

Posted date

13 Sep 2013

Posted time