You may be aware that NHS England have determined that from 01 Nov 2023 all patients will have complete prospective access to their medical records, with surgeries being required to enable this en masse. This instruction also includes automatically provisioning prospective access for patients who turn 16 years of age.
We are advocates of patients having access to their medical records and actively encourage and enable this, however after undertaking a Data Protection Impact Assessment, we have highlighted significant concerns about the risks relating to safeguarding of vulnerable adults and children, and the risk of harm (up to and including loss of life, particularly femicide) that may result if/when patient data is revealed to third parties under coercion or threat. Under the current planned changes to the system, when a patient moves surgery, there is no guarantee that any redaction will transfer also, thus increasing risk.
There is also the risk of data breaches pertaining to other individuals, named in patient records.
We therefore regret to advise that, in light of the current lack of ability to enable mass online access to patient records safely, we are unable to comply with NHS England’s plan, for fear of the consequences to our most vulnerable patients. We have instead decided to provide access in a manner that we determine to be safe and will promote an opt in process based on patient consent and involvement.
The BMA have provided us with guidance around our responsibilities as Data controllers. We WILL continue to enable individual-level patient access upon request, when we are sure the notes concerned have been appropriately checked and safely redacted and that by providing access, you or others will come to no harm. We trust in your understanding and are happy to discuss this with any patients as needed. You can apply for full prospective online access to records by completing an access to records form available from reception.