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Database of patients threatens public trust, says BMA

8 March 2010

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Building a massive single database of medical records is threatening the trust people have in the NHS, the British Medical Association (BMA) has claimed.

Doctors say the rights of patients are being overlooked and people are only agreeing to have their personal data held on a centralised system because of scaremongering. The BMA added that the database is vulnerable to computer hackers.

The government wants 50 million people to agree to have a “summary care record” stored on the system. It wants to allow out-of-hours doctors and hospital staff to be able to retrieve data usually only held by a person’s GP.

The records will initially only provide details of the drugs a patient is on, and peripheral information such as what allergies they have. However the database will eventually hold the majority of everyone’s medical history.

Dr Grant Ingrams, who chairs the BMA information technology committee, said: “I think the rights of patients are not being respected.” The group said it will be writing to Health Secretary Andy Burnham to tell him of its criticisms of the system, although the BMA said it backs the principle of a central database.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

British Medical Association

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“Not a good idea, I would not want all my personal data for anyone to get hold of” – Mrs Gail Page,East Sussex