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UK promises care record 'opt-out' - again

Doctors will explain it to patients

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UK health minister Lord Warner has outlined how people will be able to "opt-out" of having their NHS medical records shared on a national database.

Speaking at a Health Service Journal conference in London yesterday, Lord Warner said: "Patients will be informed in advance about new ways in which their information will be held and shared and they will be told they have the right to dissent - or 'opt out' - of having information shared."

Those that do not instruct their GPs to withhold some information will be deemed to have given "implicit permission" for their information to be shared by "those legitimately treating them".

The government has come under fire for its confused approach to the handling of sensitive patient information. Initially, it gave assurances that the choice to "opt-out" would be iron-clad, but later, appeared to back away from this commitment.

Lord Warner acknowledged that there are concerns about electronic care records, saying the Care Records Taskforce had been set up to address these concerns.

"It's important to note that we've put people on the taskforce who have concerns about the Care Records Service, and haven't just appointed supporters," he added.

He also refused to support calls for another review of the technology underlying the National Programme for IT. He said he would rather staff were allowed to focus on making the system work, instead of being distracted by "another review". ®

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