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GPs to debate safeguards on patient data-sharing system

1 March 2010

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Security measures for a shared patient data system are to be debated at a conference for Scottish GPs, it has emerged.

Doctors meeting at the British Medical Association conference later this month will discuss the workings of a computer system whereby patient records can be shared between health professionals across NHS Scotland.

Currently family doctors only pass on the records when cases are referred to hospitals, but GPs are facing more pressure to share patient files.

However, some doctors have raised concerns about how the system will be safeguarded to protect confidentiality and the difficulties such a practice could pose for hospital staff.

Dr Alan McDevitt, who has tabled a motion to discuss security matters for sharing information at the Clydebank conference, said: “Because of the difficulties of having to get patient information quickly it would be difficult for hospital staff to maintain password security at times.

“If we put all this information on the system it potentially means the information is accessible from an awful lot of computers across the NHS in Scotland.

“We will debate the security measures which we want to see in order to safeguard the information.”

Mr McDevitt, who is secretary of the Glasgow local medical committee and a GP in Clydebank, continued: “We have to keep working at it because we don’t have enough of the safeguards yet to share more of this information.”

Mr McDevitt said that there was currently no deadline for the information to be more widely shared.

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British Medical Association