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U-turn over patients' right to delete Summary Care Records

By Steve Nowottny

Privacy campaigners have forced NHS IT managers into a climbdown over the right of patients to delete their Summary Care Record.

The Department of Health had ruled patients who did not initially choose to opt out of having a care record would not be able to have theirs subsequently deleted, citing medico-legal concerns and the ‘prohibitive' cost.

But in a significant U-turn, following a meeting with the Information Commissioner, Connecting for Health said patients will now be able to have their record deleted on request, so long as it has not already been accessed as part of someone's care.

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director for the Summary Care Record and a GP in Kilburn, North West London, told Pulse: ‘The Information Commissioner was coming at it from the data protection angle, to make sure we don't retain records any longer than necessary. Where a record hasn't been used for care, we've agreed we will physically delete them on request.'

Patients would probably make the request via a PCT's Caldicott Guardian, she added.

Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Yateley, Hampshire, who was among those to lobby the Information Commissioner, said: ‘It's very reassuring to see the ICO upholding the principles of the Data Protection Act and not caving in to political pressure.

‘However, it is imperative patients realise the minute their record has been accessed, they forfeit their right to get their data deleted.'

Meanwhile, NHS Bolton, the first PCT in the country to pilot care record, this week reported a major increase in their use following introduction of new integrated software from Adastra.

Use of the Summary Care Record by out-of-hours GPs in Bolton has risen from 200 accesses a month to 200 accesses a week, a spokesperson said.

Dr Gillian Braunold, Clinical Director of the Summary Care Record Dr Gillian Braunold, Clinical Director of the Summary Care Record

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