GP leaders in Wessex have advised GPs not to charge police forces for the disclosure of medical records, a move that goes against recent guidance from the BMA.
BMA guidance published in June advised that GPs should charge ‘due to the disproportionate effort placed on an already overburdened GP practice to provide these notes’.
Last month, Hampshire’s deputy chief constable Sara Glen wrote to all GP practices across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, asking them not to charge a fee for producing medical records of their patients.
Responding to the letter, Wessex LMC chair Dr Nigel Watson said that while it was ‘hard to see how general practice should undertake unfunded work’ – given that all partners in a practice are self employed – as there had been no changes to legislation, it was difficult to understand why the BMA’s advice had changed.
He said: ‘As the law has not changed and does not define that a DP2 needs a Superintendent’s signature it is difficult to understand why the advice has changed.
’I have discussed the matter with the BMA and they are in discussion with the senior police representatives for England and hope to reach a satisfactory outcome shortly. My advice is to continue with the previous BMA position and release information with a signed DP2 without charge.’
The BMA guidance says that in the case of ‘serious crime’, such as murder, rape and kidnapping, practices should release information, however it adds the request should be signed off by a senior officer.
The matter remains part of ongoing negotiations between the BMA and the National Police Chiefs’ Council about medical records disclosure.