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Cuts 'could hit NHS patient record plans'

BMA frets online access will be hard

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The British Medical Association believes cutbacks will hinder efforts to allow patients to access their records online.

The professional association for doctors says that many NHS organisations do not have IT systems which would allow patients online access to their medical details, and that computing is one of the first areas to be hit when budgets are cut.

The comments are part of the BMA's response to Information Revolution, one of a number of consultation papers published after the government's white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.

The consultation outlines proposals to give patients in England more access to NHS data and more control over their records, including allowing them to access their records online and to share them with others, and for more information to be recorded at the point of care.

While the BMA agrees that the NHS should be more "intelligent" in its use of data, and that patients should in principle have easier access to and control over their data, it also warns about the dangers of information security.

It says that enabling patients to share their records online requires safeguards to protect them against disclosing more information than they intend, either inadvertently or as a result of coercion.

In addition, the BMA calls for more consideration of the potential for the proposals to increase health inequalities. Technology-driven policy will not deliver benefits to all groups in society, it points out.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP and member of the BMA's working party on IT, said: "Improving NHS IT while the NHS is under huge financial pressure will be extremely challenging.

"Delivering the information revolution cost-effectively and equitably will depend on building on the systems that are currently in place and working well, and on involving clinicians."

The government's consultation on its Information Revolution consultation paper closes on 14 January.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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