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Patients reassured over records

PUBLISHED: 12:39 23 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

HEALTH bosses have moved to reassure patients that the controversial new patients' records system is "safe and secure".

Nine out of 92 practices in NHS Norfolk's area have already uploaded records, despite many areas across the UK refusing to use the new system until it is proven there is complete confidentiality.

HEALTH bosses have moved to reassure patients that the controversial new patients records system is “safe and secure”.

Nine out of 92 practices in NHS Norfolk's area have already uploaded records, despite many areas across the UK refusing to use the new system until it is proven there is complete confidentiality.

Summary Care Records (SCR) were introduced by the government earlier this year to provide healthcare staff with quicker access to reliable online information about every patient, including emergency situations.

But it was designed so unless a patient actually said they did not want to be on the system, they were presumed to agree, which has created a great deal of confusion.

The British Medical Association has already called for the upload to be stopped because of “serious misgivings about everything to do with care records including the way consent has been gained.”

In June, the Department of Health announced two reviews of the SCR, to establish whether it was clear how to opt out and what should go on to the record, resulting in a halt on the scheme in many areas.

It has now been agreed that the upload of patient information should only take place once individual GP practices and primary care trusts agree that patients have been adequately informed about the process and enabled to opt-out should they wish.

Following numerous public information events, NHS Norfolk's SCR team is now working with local GPs to ensure that they are supported when planning to upload patients' records.

David Stonehouse, NHS Norfolk's acting Chief Executive said “Informed patient choice is paramount to this project, so NHS Norfolk has already held 20 public information sessions around the county along with a three-week radio campaign. This is to ensure that patients are well informed about summary care records and can make an informed decision about taking part in the project.

“NHS Norfolk is committed to supporting GP practices during the roll-out of the Summary Care Records project and the SCR team is currently working with all GP practices in NHS Norfolk's area to ensure that they have the correct processes in place to upload records accurately and securely.”

The Department of Health has refused to suspend the programme but said decisions were taken locally as to whether it was going ahead but no new letters are being sent out to patients.

A recent analysis of the system by University College London found that 80pc of patients did not remember receiving the leaflets or had simply thrown them away.

There is also no information on how children can opt out, although the Department of Health said that parents could inform their GPs if they wanted this to happen.

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