Patients who wish to view their electronic records should do so alongside a GP in the surgery to avoid causing them unnecessary anxiety and piling extra work on practices, the GPC has warned.
The Government recently announced plans to give all patients online access to their full GP record by 2015, as part of its ‘Information Revolution’.
But GP leaders said while they supported in principle opening up records to patients, they had ‘significant’ fears over confusing or alarming patients who read records without explanation, as well as confidentiality and security questions.
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘There are concerns about when the data goes to patients, they will read things that may concern them and that will lead to additional work for the practice.’
‘It’s quite different for the patient to be sitting in their room looking at their record with the doctor, and the doctor can say “this means so and so”, to a patient sitting at home looking at their own record downloading it and wondering what on earth it all means.’
Dr Buckman said the GPC also had concerns over security, and patients being ‘coerced to share records with family, employers, insurance companies, and other people’.
GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Whilst there is clearly some benefit, we need to tread very carefully. What we’re arguing for is to be very careful in proceeding down this path.’