NHS: Medical Records

House of Lords written question – answered on 21st June 2010.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will suspend the entry of patients' records to the Summary Care Records system and any other NHS agencies' databases pending any action to dismantle that system.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

We believe there is a need for both patients and clinicians to be able to access patient records in an electronic form. This is part of our thinking about making information transparent and available, while involving patients in decisions about their healthcare.

Effective use of the summary care record (SCR) depends on patients and doctors feeling an ownership of the records rather than them being perceived as something imposed by Government. We believe the current processes that are in place need to be reviewed to ensure that both the information that patients receive, and the process by which they opt-out, are as clear and simple as possible. In addition, should patients choose to opt-out they must be able to do so as early in the process as is feasible. Foremost in our minds is the need to ensure the security of the data contained in the record.

We intend to review the content of the record and consider whether we can improve the process whereby patients can opt-out. We will also agree with the key stakeholders what should be added to the record and over what timescale. This work will form part of a wider project to review how information and technology can be leveraged within the health service. Strategic health authorities have been informed that no further information letters should be sent out to patients about the SCR until after the review has concluded.

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