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‘Confidentiality issues from 8am-8pm opening’

14 October 2014

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Practices have been warned over patient confidentiality when participating in the government’s seven-day access trial. 

Patients seeking out-of-hours treatment while taking part in the study could be registered to a different practice than the one they are seen at. 

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has been contacted by a number of practices seeking explanation about their obligations of confidentiality with regards to these patients.

Medicolegal adviser at MPS, Dr Pallavi Bradshaw said: “Some GP practices who are involved in the government’s trial may have not appreciated the need for express consent from individuals before sharing access to medical records. 

“Patients should be given the choice of whether they consent to their records being shared in this way and GPs – as data controllers – have an ethical and legal obligation to abide by those wishes.”

The MPS has directed GPs to make sure they have informed consent from patients before sharing information and records with other practices and primary care services.

Bradshaw said: “MPS encourages practices that are asked to provide access to records to have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure appropriate sharing and processing of sensitive information and that valid consent has been obtained.

“Healthcare professionals accessing and adding to GP records must ensure they follow ethical guidelines and are responsible for keeping records confidential. The quality of the medical records they add should be sufficient to enable the patient’s regular GP to continue with their ongoing care.

“Locally coordinated schemes and publicity campaigns by practices with the support of NHS England would help inform patients of the benefits of the scheme and ensure that they have a say in who can access their medical information.”