NHS doctors need permission to access patient records

The NHS is changing its consent model so that patients will need to give permission before their electronic Summary Care Records (SCRs) are accessed by health professionals.

The change comes after consultation with doctors and nurses as well as an evaluation of the SCR programme by NHS Connecting for Health and University College London (UCL).

The new model will mean that records will be created for patients by GP practices unless they actively opt out, but that patients will need to give express permission' to share their information during future clinical evaluations.

The previous consent model gave patients a choice between allowing records to be shared with staff only with permission, or to be shared with any authorised NHS user. This was criticised as being too complicated and legally questionable.

Through the free website HealthSpace, patients will be able to see their SCRs and also record their wishes about how their care should be managed.

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director of the Summary Care Record and HealthSpace programme, said there had been much discussion about how patients could and should be fully aware about an electronic record of their health details.

She said: "The UCL report we commissioned confirmed our view that it was important to change the consent model to simplify it and make it work better for patients and clinicians.

"We have listened to doctors and nurses who have raised concerns about the complexity of the previous model and are certain we have a model which will work across a full range of care situations.

"It will continue to offer patients control over its use while making it possible to provide safer, quality care to them."

The SCR programme was an initiative by the Department of Health in England to place key medical details of NHS patients on a central database, accessible by NHS staff through a secure virtual network.

IT PRO has previously looked at how the NHS is currently overhauling its IT.