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Colleges issue legal guidance on trainee e-portfolios

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has issued detailed guidance on recording reflective notes in e-portfolios after trainees said they were receiving ‘conflicting and confusing’ advice.

The move follows a legal case in which a trainee’s ‘written reflections’ on an incident in their training development portfolio was used against them.

The Academy points out that concerns have been raised by trainees on how they should write reflective notes on e-portfolios in order to avoid a circumstance under which they may have to release them to a third party.

‘Trainees suggest they are receiving conflicting and confusing advice filtering down from different sources,’ said the guidance.

The Academy’s new legal guidance on the disclosure of information on e-portfolios to third parties includes:

  • Anonymising patients as far as possible in self-reflective logs, not referring to names, dates of births, addresses or any unique condition or circumstances (other practitioners, parents and staff should not be readily identifiable)
  • If a Subject Access Request is made and if it is established that the information within the log is a patient’s personal data, it can be argued that a doctor’s self-reflective log is exempt from disclosure under the Data Protection Act 1998
  • If a request for disclosure is made in the context of litigation, trainees could request that a court order is made as it contains personal data belonging to a third party

The Joint Academy Training Forum has formally considered the guidance.