By Ian Quinn
GP leaders have launched a campaign to encourage more patients to opt out of the controversial Summary Care Record, amid fears thousands are being railroaded into it ahead of the general election.
Londonwide LMCs has sent letters and posters to practices across the capital, along with opt out forms to be kept on receptions, urging patients to opt if they want their records to stay confidential to their practice, or if they have security doubts.
In its campaign, Londonwide LMCs warns patients of the risk of ‘hackers’ breaking into their information, telling them: ‘Having all your personal medical information in one place increases the risk of other people accessing it without permission or it getting lost.’
It adds there is little evidence of the care records doing any good.
There is increasing anger at how the mass acceleration of the rollout is being handled, with Pulse reporting last week that patients have been told to call a paid 0845 hotline if they want to receive detailed information, and that promised detailed information packs for patients and GPs had not been sent out.
Dr Michelle Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: ‘It’s got to the point where all of a sudden, it’s being rolled out as a surprise. It seems it has to be rolled out this side of an election.’
Dr Drage said the LMCs’ campaign aimed to simplify the process and stop patients being railroaded into opting out without fully understanding the consequences.
‘Today, we are sending out support packs, including a poster, and simplified consent forms. It’s making sure patients have a choice, and understand what their choice is,’ she said.
Dr Stephen Amiel, a GP in Camden, added: ‘I certainly don’t think patients understand the implications of this.’
‘A huge number of people will not even look at the letters and it will be assumed that they will have given consent – that is a breach of their right to confidentiality.’
A spokesperson for Connecting for Health, which has provided millions of pounds in central funding to SHAs including London to pay towards the cost of mailing out information to patients, said: ‘The SHAs asked for our help with the cost but it’s not up to us to tell them what information they should send out.’
She said thgat nationally four million information packs had been sent out – although there are six million patients in London alone.
Other PCTs and health authorities are being more proactive in communicating with patients. NHS South West Essex sent out an information pack to 140,000 patients providing details of the changes after successful pilot projects trialling the consent model over the past two years.
Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have said they would scrap Connecting for Health and abandon centralised records in favour of locally led versions.
Londonwide LMCs has sent letters and posters to practices across the capital, along with opt out forms to be kept on receptions, urging patients to opt if they want their records to stay confidential to their practice Londonwide LMCs has sent letters and posters to practices across the capital, along with opt out forms to be kept on receptions, urging patients to opt if they want their records to stay confidential to their practice