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Parts of NHS IT need to be put on hold, BMA says

10 March 2010

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Sections of the NHS IT programme need to be suspended, the British Medical Association (BMA) has told the government.

Medical records of patients are being put on to the database too quickly, the doctors’ group said.

NHS IT’s multibillion-pound upgrade has been criticised because of what the BMA said is poor security and the fact that many doctors have not supported the technology and have little enthusiasm for it.

Around 30,000 GPs will be linked through a virtual appointments system to around 300 hospitals. The programme centralises the personal data of 50 million patients.

The BMA wrote to health minister Mike O’Brien calling for the department to carry out further testing and evaluation of the IT pilots that have been set up.

“We urge you to consider, as a matter of urgency: (i) a halt to the roll-out of the SCR in the areas which have not yet begun their public information programmes; (ii) inclusion of an opt-out form in the information material to patients; and (iii) the permanent withdrawal of BMA comment from the NHS Connecting For Health promotional video,” it read.

Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of the BMA, said: “The break-neck speed with which this programme is being implemented is of huge concern.

The BMA has issued guidance to GPs, telling them they have a crucial role to play in advising patients about their rights and recommending opt-out forms be made available in practices.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “We absolutely support the right of any patient to opt out of having a summary care record and have provided various options to make this process straightforward.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Not enough information has been given to patients and they need clearly to understand the implications for the security of their data. I agree with the BMA that this is being rushed through. Surely not as a result of the impending general election? As a minimum, every patient should be sent information rather than relying on media articles and occasional flurries of publicity. I would not recommend a system to patients that has the potential to be accessed by so many people and I have already opted-out” – Name and address withheld

“What if this database gets hacked and important details changed, which could possibly cause a wrongful and critical diagnosis? This government’s track record on data security is appallingly bad, is it not? You can bet your boots UK govt might possibly consider this data as an important ‘revenue source’ by selling on your data to companies wishing to screen your profile” – Carl Barron, Chairman of agpcuk

“I don’t like the idea of my info being online for anyone to see. I don’t like the idea of my name and address put on display, no it  should not happen” – Joanne Hall, Nottinghamshire