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Patients (Records)

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services to what extent computerised data and records about patients are kept within his Department or by health authorities in England; when this was authorised; which health authorities keep such records and what safeguards have been prescribed by him.

[pursuant to his reply, 26 November 1979, c. 468–9…: Details of the types of data and records about patients which are held by the Department and by health authorities on computers are given below. Computers have been in use in the National Health Service for about 12 years and health authorities may keep records on computers without specific authorisation by the Department. All regional health authorities keep unidentified statistical data relating to patients on computers. The use of computers for identified patient records varies between health authorities: none keeps all the types of record listed.The Department's computers operate under stringent safeguards for the confidentiality and security of data held about patients, and health authorities are similarly expected to apply satisfactory safeguards. I have endorsed specific principles commended by the previous Administration for safeguarding child health records on NHS computers. Safeguards for computerised health records are under review in the context of the consideration being given by the Government to the recommendations of the committee on data protection.

Types of Patient Records held on Departmental Computers

  • Mental Health inquiry
  • Amputation and prosthesis: statistics
  • Monitoring adverse reaction to drugs
  • Artificial limbs and appliances: statistics
  • Psychiatric cases (Worcester area): statistics
  • Hospital activity analysis
  • Community health register and recall systems
  • Hospital patient organisation systems
  • Laboratory systems
  • Family practitioner systems
  • Pricing and scheduling for dental payments
  • Cancer registration