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Patients should be given power to correct record errors, says DH adviser

Patients should have the power to correct errors in their medical record, but should not be able to change their medical histories, says the head of the Government’s information governance review.

Dame Fiona Caldicott told delegates at the EHI Live conference in Birmingham that patients should be able to correct their records, but they should have the same level of control as they have over their bank statements.

Pulse reported earlier this year that NHS Future Forum chair Professor Steve Field had recommended patients should be able to add to their records, correct errors and agree transfer of information to other parts of the NHS.

Dame Caldicott – who is leading an ongoing review for the Department of Health on how records should be used - said Professor Field had raised an important point that the data belongs to the patient.

She said: ‘There are records being developed which are actually managed by the patients. They control what’s in them and they work with the clinicians in order to ensure the record is up to date.

But she added: ‘It’s fair to say, that that evokes quite a lot of professional anxiety, about how you can have assurance that that’s a complete record.

‘Patients certainly have the right to have errors corrected and for that to be recorded on the record, but they will not be able to change some of the information in the record.

‘One of the analogies we look at is with your bank statement, where you’ve got all sorts of facilities available but actually you can’t change what the bottom line of what the balance is without very complicated discussions with people at the bank.’

As part of her address Dame Caldicott said the main challenges facing the information governance review was that patients and doctors had a ‘fear of sharing’.

She said this was intensified by an increased awareness of data breaches by NHS organisations highlighted in the media.

The Government recently proposed the NHS Constitution was amended to allow the NHS to use patient data for research and to allow pharmaceutical companies better access to patient records.

The information governance review will make recommendations on the balance between sharing personal information and protecting individuals’ confidentiality in January next year.