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Summary Care Records created without patients being given option to opt-out

Exclusive: The Department of Health is investigating a mistake where Summary Care Records were created without patients being given the choice to opt out, Pulse can reveal.

The DH said it could not specify how many records had been created, but that it applied to patients at one practice and they had not been accessed outside the practice.

The DH could not confirm whether or not the records had been accessed by members of the practice before they were withdrawn or if the records had been deleted.

The GPC said that the error rode ‘a coach and horses’ through the promise of informed consent before a SCR is created.

Patients are meant to be sent the compulsory Patient Information Programme (PIP) giving them a chance to opt out of the programme before their SCR is created.

The PIP contains information leaflets and declination forms that give patients 12 weeks to consider whether they whether they would like to opt out of having a record.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of one occasion where records were mistakenly created without a PIP having taken place, but none of the SCRs were viewed outside of the practice concerned and the SCRs were immediately withdrawn.

‘We are now investigating the case to make sure this does not happen again.’

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the joint GPC and RCGP IT committee and a GP in Wimbledon, south London, said: ‘It rides a coach and horses through the concept of informed consent.

‘Patients will be rightly angry, they’ll feel violated. PIPs have been a disgrace from the start. Money was given to PCTs in 2009 and the PIPs are only just being implemented.

‘I think its likely there will be other examples of this, SCRs are being created just as there’s transition in the NHS so PIPs are likely to be overlooked.’

Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Kingsbury, Warwickshire, said this example highlighted some fundamental weaknesses in the whole programme.

He said: ‘This further illustrates that SCR should not be created without the explicit opt in consent of the patient.

‘And even those that have been created with opt out consent should be checked with the patient at the earliest opportunity.’

He added that SCRs are being created based on ‘out of date’ consent: ‘The vast majority of a huge information packs were sent out some years ago but SCR was not implemented immediately afterwards.

‘It is wholly inappropriate to create Summary Care Records based on this out-of-date patient opt out.’