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Medical Records

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what legal advice he has received on the issue of access rights to summary care records. (252282)

No legal advice has been sought or received on the specific issue of access rights to summary care records. Summary care records are no different in this respect from any other confidential personal patient information held by national health service organisations. Access rights are set out in statute, most particularly the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Access to Health Records Act 1990.

In the absence of a statutory right of access to information, an individual may only gain access to information where doing so meets the confidentiality requirements established under the common law. Confidentiality requirements are set out in the Department’s publication “Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice (2003)” which was endorsed by the Information Commissioner, the General Medical Council and the Department’s legal advisers. A copy of the publication has been placed in the Library. In line with these requirements, access to summary care record information is only permitted to clinical staff who have a legitimate relationship with the patient for which consent may be implied, for example because they are providing NHS healthcare or treatment, or who have express consent from the patient for other reasons, for example clinical research. Exceptionally, confidential information may be passed to third parties in accordance with certain specific statutory provisions or where required under court order, or where the public interest is such that both the obligations of confidentiality and the competing public interest in the provision of confidential health services need to be overridden.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money due to each local service provider in respect of delivery of care record systems has been withheld owing to delays in delivery. (252337)

National programme for information technology contracts provide for delay deductions to be paid by the local service provider (LSP) should the LSP fail to achieve certain key milestones. Under these arrangements, some £25.875 million has to date been paid by CSC, some of which has been earned back. Delay deductions have not to date been paid by any other LSP, but those that have been assessed for Fujitsu will be factored into the contract termination arrangements.