30/06/2005

Public ‘concerned’ about central health records computer

Members of the public are “seriously concerned” about government plans to hold health records on a central computer, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.

A survey regarding government plans for a new electronic health record system found that 75% of patients would not mind their health information being held on a central computer system. Sixty-nine per cent of those surveyed also said that they did not mind the information being shared and seen by relevant individuals involved in their care.

However, three-quarters of respondents expressed concerns about the security of the system, while 81% were worried that people other than healthcare professionals would be able to access the information.

The survey of nearly 2,000 adults, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the BMA, also found that 77% of respondents also believed that information should only be stored on the system if the person gave their consent first, while 61% said they would like to be able to put information into their own record.

Barbara Wood, co-chair of BMA’s Patient Liaison Group said: “Patients recognise the value of having their health record held centrally but are concerned about who will have access to it and for what purposes. They are generally happy for their doctor or another health professional involved in their care to have access to their health record but they do have worries about non-clinicians having access.

“Patient groups must be consulted in a meaningful way about the project as it develops if it is to stand any chance of being accepted by the public.”

(KMcA/SP)

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