Live in Care

NHS database 'could do unintended harm': Plans to allow patients to view their own records could put confidentiality at risk, say experts

  • Under the proposals from NHS England, every person in the country will be able to access their medical record online by 2020
  • Also be able to book appointments, see test results and order prescriptions
  • Fears confidentiality will be breached as easier to look up information
  • Academics urge NHS officials to delay plans to ensure patients' privacy is protected

NHS plans for everyone to be able to check their medical records online may cause 'unintended harm', leading academics have warned.

They are concerned confidentiality will be breached as it will be relatively easy for others to look up sensitive information, and urge NHS officials to delay the plans to ensure patients' privacy is protected.

Under the proposals from NHS England, every person in the country will be able to access their medical record online by 2020. They will also be able to book appointments, look up test results and order prescriptions.

Officials hope the system will be as popular as online banking and drastically reduce the pressure on GPs.

But in an article for the British Journal of General Practice, academics from University College London, Bristol University and Queen Mary University of London, say the NHS must delay the roll-out while it ensures there are 'adequate safeguards'.

They are particularly worried about references to abuse or maltreatment in the medical records of elderly and vulnerable patients being seen by their abusers, and teenagers coming under pressure from parents to let them to look at their records.

They write: 'There is potential for unintended harm – particularly those harms related to privacy. As the juggernaut of online access rolls forward, the least harmful way is to implement it slowly.'

Daily Mail – Tuesday 26th May 2015

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