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Help patients understand their new health records, BMA urges doctors
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17th November 2006
Dr Luke Koupparis
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Doctors are being encouraged to start talking now to their patients about the new electronic health record, in new guidance published today (16/11/06) by the British Medical Association.

 The BMA would like patients to be able to make a positive informed decision to share their medical records if they feel that is right for them
 Mr James Johnson
Although Connecting for Health is planning a public information campaign, the BMA believes that patients should be made aware sooner of how the new system will hold and share information about their health and medical appointments.

In a letter to the medical profession, Mr James Johnson, Chairman of the BMA, tells doctors that the NHS Care Records Service will bring significant changes to the way patient healthcare information is recorded and accessed in the NHS. The BMA urges doctors to be fully aware of these changes so that they can not only prepare themselves for the new system but also help patients with any concerns or questions they may have now.

Mr James Johnson said: “The BMA would like patients to be able to make a positive informed decision to share their medical records if they feel that is right for them. This type of approach will have the added advantage of providing an opportunity for both doctors and patients to check the accuracy of the information before it is shared.

“Patients will need to make important decisions about who can access their health information. People with medical records containing information about unwanted pregnancies, mental illness and HIV status in particular, will need to be reassured that they have the right to keep this information between themselves and their doctor.

“There has already been considerable publicity on the new health record, and until Connecting for Health puts in place a comprehensive public information campaign, we would advise doctors to start discussing the implications of introducing the new system to protect the confidential nature of the doctor/patient relationship at the heart of modern medicine.”


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