17:53 Friday 18 October 2013

Records are 'safe' say health bosses

Written byROB SMYTH

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HEALTH chiefs in South Derbyshire have moved to reassure patients after fears were raised that their confidential medical records could be offered to private companies.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) moved to calm worries by stating that any data would be handed ‘securely and respectfully’ by the public body.

The matter came to light after Hilton couple Keith and Elaine Popple hit out at the Government plans to make GP surgeries supply patient information for collection and analysis.

Dr Mark Davies, GP and HSCIC clinical and public assurance director, said: “It is important to emphasise to readers that patients’ confidential medical records will not be offered to private firms and that patient data will always be handled securely and respectfully.

“The HSCIC has a legal duty as the accredited ‘safe haven’ for secure analysis of health and social care data to protect privacy and confidentiality.

“We will electronically receive elements of patient data as part of NHS England’s care data programme, but would never issue this in a way that people would be identified and only ever when approved for the purpose of improving care.

“This data will never include details of private discussions between a GP and a patient and will almost always be anonymised before released to an approved organisation, such as an NHS body. This process is very strictly controlled, subject to independent scrutiny and open to the public.

“Patient or social care user can object to any confidential data about them leaving a care setting such as a GP surgery.

“Patient confidentiality is an important issue to which we all should be aware and people should discuss any concerns about how their data is used with their GP.”

The care data awareness campaign, which began with leaflets and posters in GP surgeries, will see all households in England receive a leaflet in 2014, explaining how the new system will work and the benefits it will bring.

It will clearly set out how peoples’ information will be used and their right to object.

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