BMA branch withdraws support for fast rollout of Summary Care Records

A regional branch of the British Medical Association has issued a statement today that supports the concerns of doctors who are reluctant to allow patient records to be uploaded to a central database as part of the £12.7bn NHS IT scheme NPfIT.

The statement by the Northern Regional Council of the British Medical Association reflects the concerns of those GPs who believe that low numbers of patients are opting out from the Summary Care Records because they are ignoring the government leaflets on the scheme.

The leaflets tell patients about the benefits of the scheme and how to opt out. But they’re probably not read by most patients because they’re long-winded. If patients don’t opt out their medical details may be uploaded automatically to a central BT-run Oracle database.

This is the statement of the Northern Regional Council of the BMA:

“Traditionally, a patients complete personal, and often intimate, medical records are kept strictly private within the confines of their GP’s practice with a strictly controlled and limited access by a small number of professional people within the practice.

“That information is shared with other professional colleagues, such as hospital consultants, on a “need to know” basis.

“Many doctors have serious and genuine concerns about the “uplifting” of patient medical records to a centrally-controlled database , which they fear will lead to access being available to those records by many thousands of people working in the health service across the country.

“Many doctors believe the Government is being disingenuous in the method it is employing to achieve this end.

“They are insisting that there is an “opt out” basis of consent for records to be uplifted rather than an “opt in” system, meaning that the vast majority of patients by doing nothing are allowing their records to be shared.

“The BMA Northern Council believes that this is not a true “informed” consent for those records to leave the safe keeping of their GP.

“The BMA initially agreed to support the “piloting” of the Government’s ideas in some areas, but believes there has been insufficient evidence from those pilots to support the rapid roll out of the scheme cross the country.

“We cannot support a system which does not support proper informed consent and that most patients do not understand. The fear is that this is being rapidly escalated to cover the enormous waste there has been of 12 Billion pounds already spent on the national NHS IT system.”

Dr Roger N Ford
Hon Secretary
Northern Regional Council
British Medical Association

3rd March 2010


BMA branch opposes fast rollout of summary care records –

Is Summary Care Record feasible? – IT Projects Blog

London GPs make it easy for patients to opt out of Summary Care Records –