Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plan for Patient Records on Hold; Doctors Win Battle on Central Database

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plan for Patient Records on Hold; Doctors Win Battle on Central Database

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

LEADING doctors in the North East have won their battle to prevent patients' medical records being uploaded onto a centrally-stored electronic database.

Summary Care Records (SCR) is an electronic version of patients' key health information derived from their doctor's notes and shared between healthcare staff.

As reported in The Journal, top GPs in the region have been leading national opposition to the introduction of the scheme following fears about data safety issues surrounding uploading potentially sensitive and confidential information.

And yesterday the Department of Health announced it was suspending its SCR plans in areas subject to accelerated roll-out, which includes the North East, until there is greater public and professional awareness.

Roll-out plans for the region had been scheduled to be completed next year and patients were already being written to by NHS North East with information about the proposed system.

Dr Roger Ford, honorary secretary of the British Medical Association's Northern Council said he welcomed the news to suspend plans.

He said: "We are particularly pleased because doctors in the North East have been at the forefront of opposing the introduction of such a scheme without there being full and informed consent and a proper understanding of the process by their patients. "There are genuine concerns around the maintenance of the confidentiality of patients' personal medical records if this system is employed.

"Additionally, many doctors are firmly of the opinion that the huge amounts of money, running into billions of pounds, that have already been spent on the system would have been more appropriately spent on better patient treatment, such as cancer-fighting drugs.

"We hope the next elected Government, irrespective of its hue, will give no further thought to implementing the scheme until there is greater public and professional awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of the system. …

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