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Children (Computerised Medical Records)

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement of his intentions regarding the use of computers to store medical records of children; and if he will ensure that full consultation will take place with all the interested bodies before a decision is made.

The use of computers for the storage of medical records in health authority child health systems is a matter primarily for health authorities. Nevertheless, the Department supports the use of economical methods where they are appropriate. In 1975, two parts of a computer system were introduced, providing a register of children by area health authority, appointments for courses of immunisation and the recording of results. A third and fourth part of the system covering appointments for, and recording results of, health surveillance of preschool and schoolchildren is now being developed. This work is being overseen by a National Health Service committee comprising representatives of health authorities and of professional bodies; such as the British Medical Association, the British Paediatric Association and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, involved in this field of work. This committee has engaged in extensive consultation and I am assured that this will continue. I am aware of misgivings in relation to confidentiality, but I hope that it will be possible to resolve these before pilot trials of the third part of the system are begun late next summer.