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GPs increasingly requesting advice about CQC's powers to access patient records

GPs are increasingly concerned about whether they should let the CQC access their patients’ records on inspections, a medical defence body has revealed.

The Medical Protection Society said GPs have been contacting them expressing concern about ‘patient confidentiality’, and seeking advice on their ‘professional obligations’ to co-operate with the CQC on the new GP inspections.

Many GPs are still unaware of the CQC’s powers to access the patient medical records and obtain patient and carer contact details without consent, MPS said.

It comes as Pulse recently revealed that the CQC will have the power to review patient medical records without their consent ‘to assess the quality of care provided by the practice’, as part of the new style GP inspection regime officially rolled out in October.

The CQC has the powers to access patient medical records under Health and Social Care Act 2008, however the regulator has said it will allow GPs to anonymise the records.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, medicolegal adviser at MPS, said: ‘Members have been calling our advice line to ask if they should allow CQC inspectors access to patient records and other identifying information.

‘Healthcare professionals must co-operate with inspections and should be aware that the CQC can inspect and take copies of medical records to perform their regulatory function without explicit consent from patients. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 provides the statutory basis for this power.

‘MPS advises its members that they do not need to obtain specific consent from patients and they can be reassured that inspectors must keep the information confidential, as they have a legal duty to do so.’

Previously speaking about the regulator’s powers to access patient records, Professor Nigel Sparrow, senior national GP advisor at the CQC told Pulse: ‘The main purpose of the review of medical records is to assess the quality of care provided by the practice. It is not to assess the individual clinician. In routine inspections, the GP or nurse specialist advisor will look at the medical records.

‘Although the 2008 Health and Social Care Act does not require this, our view is that in most cases it is appropriate for the clinicians on the team to lead this aspect of the inspection. This will usually be the case but where inspection teams have concerns about a practice it may be necessary for any of the inspectors to access medical records or to see a medical record.’

Pulse recently reported that GP practices that are placed in CQC ‘special measures’ will have to pay half the costs of essential support, which will cost them up £5,000.

Readers' comments (13)

  • I run a confidential service for doctors and dentists - I am not sure they would want their records accessed without consent. What is good enough for health professionals must be good enough for other patients. How can an inspection of a handful of notes give an indication of the standard of care that is provided by a practice - anymore than a single health measure can say how well an individual is. GMC and NCAS use standardised methodology for sampling case notes, examining them and gaining consent from patients. Should this not be the standard that CQC use?

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  • Why don't GPC make a big poster about this and all practice across the country put it up in their surgery. You know, just to inform our patients which must be a good thing to do.

    "Did you know the MPs in 2008 voted in a law which allows government regulatory body to see and take your confidential notes without asking you? We have no powers to stop this. Please call your MP if you have concerns"

    See how quickly MPs will change their tune when Pts starts contacting them..............

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  • Bob Hodges

    We are already paying the GMC to regulate us on our record keeping. We are already responsible for the record keeping of our staff. Why are we being subject to this nonsense?I refer you to the GMC's 'Duties of a Doctor':

    "19. Documents you make (including clinical records) to formally record your work must be clear, accurate and legible. You should make records at the same time as the events you are recording or as soon as possible afterwards.

    20. You must keep records that contain personal information about patients, colleagues or others securely, and in line with any data protection requirements.

    21. Clinical records should include:
    a. relevant clinical findings
    b. the decisions made and actions agreed, and who is making the decisions and agreeing the actions
    c. the information given to patients
    d. any drugs prescribed or other investigation or treatment
    e. who is making the record and when."

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  • These legal powers need to be tested in court, the MDOs should be supporting members on this, I do not agree with their advice. The CQC can get consent like everyone else, or go to court for a legal order

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  • With ex rcgp bigwigs in charge, i am convinced this all represents a backdoor implementation of RCGP policy to control everything what happens in our surgeries.

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  • Makes a mockery of the 'can we have your permission to share' question we are forced to ask to every patient if we want to do an eRefferal, or before we allow MacMillan Nurses access to records for patient care - I understand quality control but surely this can be done with patients permission on the day - its not as though inspections take place when we are closed.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    The CQC is a strange organisation which seems to be making up rules as it goes along. They have taken it upon themselves to "give permission" for a partner to join or leave a practice. Please can someone tell me how to stop a partner leaving if the CQC do not graciously "give permission" (5 weeks notice required by them incidentally, and a tedious form which must be filled in online BY A PARTNER - managers not allowed - which takes 22 minutes - to seek permission.)

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  • so why are the GPs who are being bullied into it not allowing access without anonymising?.is this clause being overridden by this completely immoral group....come on Daily Mail do your job and highlight this grossly unethical policy

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  • Bob Hodges - don't rely on GMC advice to protect you. HMG now has control over GMC MDOs CQC CCGs BMA RCGP GPC - they can make up whatever rules they like to get data

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  • Anonymous 11:20

    Is that someone asking the Daily Mail for assistance??

    Have I come to the right forum....??

    I think I need to see a Doctor!!!

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