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Patient record system is safe, say Norfolk NHS bosses

PUBLISHED: 06:07 13 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:47 02 July 2010

Dan Grimmer

Health bosses have reassured patients in the county that a new controversial care records system is 'safe and confidential' after it was criticised by doctors' leaders.

Health bosses have reassured patients in the county that a new controversial care records system is “safe and confidential” after it was criticised by doctors' leaders.

About 580,000 people who are registered with a GP in the NHS Norfolk area were recently invited to join the summary care record scheme which aims to “provide safer, faster and more efficient healthcare”.

It is part of a national initiative to give doctors and nurses access to information about a patient's allergies, medication and any bad reactions that patients may have had to medication in the past, ensuring vital information is on hand especially in emergencies and within out of hours care.

Letters have been sent out to people in the NHS Norfolk area in the past few weeks informing them of these changes and giving them the opportunity to “opt out” if they are unhappy with any aspects the scheme.

However this week the British Medical Association (BMA) claimed patients' records were being placed on the online database without their knowledge or consent.

The doctors' representative group claims personal information is being put on line at “breakneck speed” leaving people with no chance to object.

The BMA is even calling for the IT programme to be suspended over “serious concerns” that privacy is being put at risk with the information not safe from hackers.

And North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said he did not have “much confidence” in the system. He said: “The national IT programme ahs been a disaster from start to finish and I think this is one case where the government has bitten off more than it can chew.”

But today a spokesman from NHS Norfolk said the system was safe and patients were being informed at every stage of the process.

He said: “All patients who are over the age of 16 and registered with a GP practice in the NHS Norfolk area should have received a letter informing them that NHS Norfolk is introducing summary care records across the county.

“Patients are offered a minimum of 12 weeks to decide if they want to have a summary care record. During this time, no summary care records will be created. NHS Norfolk is focussing on raising public awareness.

“Patients will have a chance to find out more about summary care records and ask questions at any of the 20 public information sessions which are being held in March and April at various venues across the county.”

On March 15 NHS Norfolk starts a three-week radio campaign on three local stations with the aim of raising awareness of these public information sessions. Posters promoting these sessions have been posted in local pharmacies, GP surgeries, libraries and local hospitals.

The spokesman said: “All these initiatives should ensure that patient's can make an informed decision. Patients are able to change their mind about having a summary care record at any time.”

More information is available at www.norfolk.nhs.uk/yourhealth/nhs_summary_care_record

To contact the NHS Norfolk's Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for more information and advice on the recrods call 0800 587 4132.

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