GPs criticised for boycotting NHS Care Records Service

An organisation representing NHS IT professionals has criticised GPs for voting to boycott the new NHS national care records...

An organisation representing NHS IT professionals has criticised GPs for voting to boycott the new NHS national Care Records Service (CRS).

The service is the corner stone of the National Programme for IT and due to store around 50 million records for every patient in England.

Earlier this month the annual meeting of the local medical committees of the British Medical Association, which represents around 30,000 GPs, voted in favour of a motion that said GPs should not to engage in the CRS because of lack of consultation and uncertainties over how it will work.

This week the Association for ICT Professionals in Health and Social Care (Assist) condemned doctors for boycotting the CRS on the eve of some systems going live.

Assist chairman, Andrew Haw said, "There is much evidence that patients expect different parts of the NHS to share administrative and clinical information about them. Indeed patients often, rightly, express irritation about being repeatedly asked the same questions and having to see clinicians when not all of the relevant data is available to them.

"While everyone should be concerned about patient confidentiality, the plans for allowing a patient 'opt out' have long been known about and the medical representatives on the Clinical Advisory Board did not, we believe, object to these arrangements."

"Our members have been working hard with the National Programme for IT to ensure that the system will work. It is a shame that, instead of putting barriers in the way of progress, the GPs could not come forward with positive suggestions to overcome perceived difficulties," he said.

The annual meeting of local medical committees of the British Medical Association, which last month voted for a motion said, "Given the uncertainties and lack of consultation on the Care Records Service [and] until GPs' legitimate concerns are answered, GPs should not engage with the Care Records Service."

The motion also stated, "[We] deplore the announcement of a timetable for implementation of [the Care Records Service] before all the enormous challenges and concerns it raises have been adequately addressed."

In response, a spokesman for the national programme said, "We recognise that important issues have been raised. We are seeking a meeting with members of the BMA GPs' IT committee at which we can explore the issues further. We shall also shortly be announcing revised arrangements for clinicians and patients formally to inform the work of the national programme for IT. We know we need to build more understanding of the work we are doing."

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