Doctors have voted not to allow patient data to be loaded on to national clinical records systems unless there is explicit consent from the patient.
The decision, taken at a British Medical Association conference last week, could put the medical profession at loggerheads with government policy on uploading patient data onto national electronic records systems – a cornerstone of the National Programme for IT.
A spokeswoman for the BMA said, “Doctors feel that they do not want to put up potentially sensitive patient information [on national systems] without the consent of the patient. It was generally felt that to assume the public would give their consent was an assumption too far.”
The BMA voted for an “opt-in” model, where patients must explicitly agree to have their medical data loaded onto national systems.
Connecting for Health, which runs the NPfIT is working on an “opt-out” model, which would mean patient data would automatically be loaded onto national systems unless the patient asked for their details to be withheld.
Gillian Braunold, clinical lead at Connecting for Health, said the government was unlikely to change its policy to accommodate the doctors’ decision. “The programme is quite clear that it has to carry on. In every country that has attempted to create electronic records on an opt-in basis, it has never got off the ground.”