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Medical Records

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) by what means a GP practice may transfer the medical records of patients who leave its catchment area and register with another practice; (232355)

(2) how many primary care trusts permit the transfer of patient records between GPs’ practices (a) by electronic means, (b) on paper only and (c) by both paper and electronic means;

(3) what his Department's policy is on the practice of electronic transfer of patient records between GPs outside of the GP2GP system;

(4) how many primary care trusts convert electronic patient records into paper documentation for the purposes of transfer between GPs practices; how many of those are known to have made errors in the transcription of such documents; and how many such errors are known to have been made in the last three years.

A practice must transfer the patient health record via the local primary care trust (PCT) as this is required by Regulations. In most cases this will involve transfer of the Lloyd George paper records but where the PCT has agreed this could be achieved by an electronic copy. Practices can also transfer a copy of the electronic record to a patient’s new practice by a GP2GP electronic health record transfer. No information is collected centrally on the numbers of PCTs that transfer records by electronic, paper or by both these means.

GP2GP is the recognised, secure method of transferring patient records between general practitioner (GP) practices and some 4,800 practices have the ability to transfer records by GP2GP at the present time. The GP2GP project is working closely with those clinical system suppliers who are currently non-compliant to extend the scope of this service which brings benefits for patients and for doctors by enabling patient information to be securely transferred and available much quicker than before.

Where it has been agreed by the PCT that patient records may be transferred in an electronic format or indeed on paper, robust information governance standards must be applied to ensure the safe and secure transfer of the record. The national health service chief executive, has written to all NHS trust chief executives to confirm the information governance standards that must apply to patient data.

Information is not collected centrally on how many PCTs convert electronic patient records into paper documentation for the purposes of transfer between GP practices, nor the frequency that this occurs or on the number of transcription errors.