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Medical Records

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons his Department will not publish the legal guidance provided to the Department relating to the report of the ministerial working party into the summary care record chaired by Lord Warner. (212237)

The legal advice in question relates to the substance of our proposals for the creation of the summary care record rather than to the report of the working party. It is covered by legal professional privilege, which provides grounds, recognised in an exemption under section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act, for not disclosing communications between a public authority and its legal advisers where this would not be in the public interest.

Legal privilege is an essential feature of the solicitor/client relationship in that it allows frank and fully-informed analysis of risk to be made prior to undertaking a particular course of action. We have taken the view that there is a very strong public interest in maintaining that principle in this case.