The government was intending to force GPs to make all the records we make from 1/12/22 onwards automatically accessible to any patient over the age of 16.
The profession has been discussing this scheme with government for several years.
Whilst there are no issue with patients having access to their records and we already provide this on request and patients also have a legal right under the Data Protection Act to access a static and redacted copy of their records.
However, this is very different to continuous automatic ongoing access to everything.
Our records hold more than just your pure medical records, they contain working diagnoses, discounted diagnoses, aide memoires, reminders, observations, and references as well as the clinical content. They may also contain information about or identified as coming from 3rd parties. The government believes we should modify the way we record these things, including the pure clinical content, so as they are more easily understood by patients, less jargon. We disagree, we believe we should use the language of our profession in the same way a structural engineer or a policeman would.
This means there may be elements or a patient record that might cause concern or confusion unless they are deciphered and explained. The third party elements cannot be shared without their consent.
GPs are currently acknowledged as being under considerable national pressure and as we only receive on average 5 requests for access per month we do not believe we should divert valuable resource to cleansing the 13,500 patient’s records we have to enable this turn on. This approach has been endorsed and is supported by the British Medical Association, which has announced today that the Government has agreed to delay the scheme for the reasons stated.
As Data Controllers of your records, we have responsibilities as well as powers, one of which is to decide whether to allow processing. We are grateful for the Government making this functionality available, but we do not have the capacity to undertake the work needed to provide it wholesale from 1/12/22. We believe this should be made available on request, on a first come first served basis, so that we can deal with the issues raised above on an individual basis. If you want this sort of access, we will happily provide it as soon as we are able and after we have confirmed that you understand exactly what is being offered and why.
Dr Paul Cundy