No qualifications needed to access national health records database…

March 6, 2008

A new national database of confidential patient records is being opened to access by NHS staff who need no professional qualifications – despite official assurances that access to the summary care record will be provided only to specialists who are providing care or treatment.

The document from Bolton Primary Care Trust – minutes of a Summary Care Record Project Board meeting on 7 January 2008 – released to us under the Freedom of Information Act says:

“Process for using Summary Care Record in Accident and Emergency

“The group were informed that, at one of the implementation group meetings, the GP practices raised an issue around the process for using SCR in A&E. Originally, the procedure at A&E was to be that the receptionist would look at the record then print it off and add it to the CAS [Casualty Record] card. The GPs have issues over non-clinical staff accessing the records as they have informed their patients that this would not happen.

“Two leaflets went out to patients when they were being informed of having a Summary Care Record. The standard mailing leaflets state that non-clinical staff ‘may not have access to your records’. The security leaflet however, clearly stated that non-clinical staff ‘will not have access to your records’. Connecting for Health have decided to keep the wording of the 1st document the way it is and change the second to match it.

“The GPs have said that all their patients will need to be informed that receptionists may look at their records. It has been decided that, because of this, the only action that can be taken is to change the procedure at the hospital. The amended procedure means that HCAs [healthcare assistants] will now access the records rather than the receptionists as they are classed as clinical staff…

“The main problem with this change of procedure is that HCAs are only in the department around 50% of the time. Chris is looking into what could happen the rest of the time and will feed back at the next meeting. The Board are happy to sign off the procedure for the HCAs to access the records instead of the receptionists as long as there is a procedure in place for the full day rather than just when the HCAs are in.”

Full excerpt from computer weekly here :


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