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Patients to be able to edit GP records 'far sooner' than expected

Patients will be able to edit and access their complete medical record ‘far sooner’ than many people expected, vice-chair of the National Association of Primary Care Dr Charles Alessi has said.

Dr Alessi told an audience at the 2014 Best Practice conference in Birmingham that the changes were inevitable, and that they were essential if the NHS is to successfully convince patients to manage more of their own care,

It follow similar comments by NHS England officials earlier this year, but Dr Alessi said that this is likely to happen sooner than expected.

He also claimed that GPs are contributing to a ‘culture of dependency’, albeit for good reasons, that will need to change.

Dr Alessi told the conference: ‘As of next March, we’ll all have access to our medical records. I think we should really be proud of the fact that, as of March, I will now have the right to ask my GP to view my medical record.’

But he added: ‘I won’t be able to know the things I really need to know, which is how to help myself, manage myself.

‘I think we’ve got a way to go to deliver access to medical records, but that’s going to happen far sooner than we realise… because the only way we’re going to get people more involved in delivering their own healthcare is by giving people permission not only to access their record but actually to write in their own record.’

He said there would need to be audit trails to prevent people from inappropriately changing their records, but he added: ‘The whole basis of the relationship is going to change.’

Dr Alessi also argued that, as part of the personalisation of care, GPs should expect more metrics on things like patient wellness to be introduced by local authorities to ‘hold healthcare to account’.

But he added this would also require patients to take responsibility for their own health, and said GPs had been contributing to a ‘culture of dependency’ by telling patients to return if they were worried about their symptoms.

Dr Alessi said: ‘We always say to somebody with a fever, or a minor complaint, “if you’re worried, come back”.

‘We almost have developed a culture of dependency, for good reasons, not missing important conditions like meningitis and developing conditions.’

In April this year, Beverly Bryant, NHS England director of strategic systems and technology, said patients being able to add to GP records was a ‘basic building block’ of what they were trying to achieve.

Readers' comments (26)

  • Dr Alessi:
    1. Safety netting is not a "culture of dependency"-it is about safety. The patient is not the clinical expert. Come and sit in with me and I will teach you how to do a consultation with a patient. You can take notes if you like.
    2. Notes access-this is again fine BUT there must be appropriate safeguards in place for many eventualities eg safeguarding issues, aggressive/dangerous patients etc. Again, I can educate you on these if you like-consider these scenarios a bit like the MRCGP exam.

    And finally remember, you do not have a monopoly on knowledge either so consider listening to your colleagues wisdom?

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  • Observe as your clinical notes become meaningless through self censorship.

    Notes are made to aid the Dr for the benefit of their patient. this won't improve care, it will just make notes less useful for the people who rely on them to do their job.

    I dispair ...as I have done so many times over the past few years about what has happened and contiues to unfold in the destruction of the independence of my profession

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • Just checking to see if today is yet another April 1st on the calendar. We seem to be averaging at least one April 1st headline every week presently. Please,please tell me it is indeed another April 1st joke.......

    No, well I cannot get out of this profession quick enough then.

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  • I assume Dr Alessi has some evidence this improves patient care? Not just satisfaction but also the clinical out come. And the expected benefit will out weight the millions (?billions) which will have to be spent on IT and legal resources as well as reduction doctor's clinical time?

    He must be hiding this evidence well as I've not seen any.

    Unfortunately there will be knee jerk "it's a good idea" "whats GPs hiding if they wont allow access" reaction from narrow visioned patients to force this idiotic waste of an idea push through. Just like the billions wasted on Dersi centres.

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  • Medical records which the patient can edit and delete things they don't want, are worthless.
    There will be no point in making records any more.
    My head hurts from banging it against the wall at the endless tide of bonkers ideas from these self appointed "leaders" who can't stop trying to out-meddle each other.

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  • The lunatic have taken over the asylum and are running amok.

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  • where do you get these messed up leaders from ,,, i think probably we are the only country in world where patients can edit their own records... we probably should export some of these leaders allover the world... lol

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  • Dr Alessi, you have access already and have done for many years, just not through the high risk internet. It's worrying if you are vice-chair of NAPC and are either unaware of this or have not realised how you might be misconstrued with statements such as reported above. Amendments can be added to the written record if patient disagrees but the actual record should not be changed or it becomes worthless. I don't understand what you think will be achieved by this to make it worth the risk.
    What about hospital records? (You have been quoted as saying "complete medical record")

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  • And there we open the gates of heavens for all wanting to colour and embellish their records for insurance and other purposes.
    A bit of clarity would be helpful on 'Edit' - the matter and range of editing possible
    As far as accessibility of records is concerned - Was there ever any restriction on this? My patients could always ask to see their records so what's the big deal?

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  • This is actually terrifying. Exactly what information will patients be looking to edit? Where does this leave us medic-legally if patients have access to alter our notes? Medical records are a report of the information and assessment a healthcare professional attains through history and examination. By editing them, they become an inaccurate portrayal of the healthcare professional's findings given the information available to them. Access to records fine but editing them? Why ? Safeguards against tampering with information are paramount.

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