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GP eHealth boycott questioned

23 July 2007

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An expert charged with helping the NHS IT programme become a success has questioned whether a GP boycott of eHealth records is justified.

Marlene Winfield, the national patient lead at NHS Connecting for Health, argues that, as a patient, she wants to be able to see her own records.

Connecting for Health is the largest civilian IT programme in the world, and also covers Choose and Book and ePrescribing.

But Ms Winfield is querying whether the inherent risks of the summary care record are great enough to justify a wholesale boycott by GPs.

She claims the new record has two main purposes: to provide the NHS with crucial patient information when none is available from other sources, and to give patients access to a summary of their health records when they need it.

And it is now vital to have this basic information readily available to help facilitate out-of-hours cover, she added.

Ms Winfield, who was made an OBE in 2000 for services to civil justice reform, said GPs may be concerned about confidentiality, but patients do have the option of opting out of the scheme.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), she adds that while GPs worry about inaccurate information being shared, the best way to improve accuracy is to give patients access to the information so that they can check it.

“I don’t want my doctors taking all the responsibility for my healthcare and keeping all the information to themselves,” she writes.


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