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CfH reaffirms patient security as Care Records pilot begins

3 January 2008

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The piloted NHS Care Records Service has begun in several surgeries in Bolton and Bury, following a statement from NHS Connecting from Health (CfH) reaffirming the security of the system.

GPs have been concerned over the security of uploading patient’s records to a national electronic database – in a recent survey, 60% of GPs said they were reluctant to upload their patients’ records to the system.

These concerns increased following the recent loss of clinical information relating to 168,000 patients by City and Hackney PCT.

In response to this event, Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GPs’ Committee, said: “Patients need to be absolutely confident that the information that is held securely cannot be lost in some haphazard way.

“It’s vitally important that any development of centralised systems is done in a careful and measured way.”

In a written statement, CfH said: “Patient confidentiality is a top priority of the National Programme for IT in the NHS. A Care Record Guarantee confirms the undertaking to patients.

“The IT systems implemented as part of the NHS Programme for IT have the highest standards of security control requiring a smartcard that is only issued on proof of identity and residence along with a password.

“Access to specific clinical information is controlled by the smartcard and requires a legitimate relationship with the patient and access is further limited depending on the role of the individual.

“Audit trails will reveal who has accessed a record and when and NHS management is alerted to any inappropriate access. Any essential transfer of data must be encrypted and subject to specific transfer controls.

“It is the local NHS’s responsibility to ensure that security policies and procedures are adhered to and that any irregularities are investigated and dealt with under the appropriate disciplinary procedures.”

A new film detailing the experiences of patients and clinicians in Summary Care Record early adopter areas is now available to order or download from the NHS Care Records Service website (see link below).

Connecting for Health

NHS Care Records Service