The first meeting of the new Health Records and Data Protection Review Group, set up to advise the Government on helping people to gain access to their health records, took place on Friday, 24 May.

The group, whose members represent patient groups, health and social care professionals and regulatory bodies, will advise the Government on issues such as charges levied by doctors, under the Data Protection Act, for providing individuals with copies of their health records.

It will also advise whether and when doctors need to screen a patient’s health records before they can see them, and how information in a patient’s medical record about them and their family should be handled in respect of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Though it is a requirement of good practice to take family history data from a patient, it is currently unclear whether the Data Protection Act 1998 requires family members to be informed that such information is held and how it is being used.

Commenting on the establishment of the new group, Health Minister Hazel Blears said: "It is important that individuals have access to their health records so that they are better informed about their own treatment and care and can make decisions based on that information."

The members of the new Health Records and Data Protection Review Group are:

  • (Chair) Raj Kaur, Information Policy Unit, Department of Health

  • Graham Sutton, Lord Chancellors Department

  • Gillian Romano-Critchley, British Medical Association

  • Sandra Cavill, Office of the Information Commissioner

  • Jonathan Roberts, General Medical Council,

  • Professor Roy McClelland, Royal College of Psychiatrists

  • Lorraine Nicholson, IHRIM

  • Anna Rowland, The Law Society

  • Andrea Farmer, Cabinet Office

  • Stephanie Ellis, Patients Concern

  • Simon Foster, MIND

  • Carol Riggs, Action for Victims of Medical Accidents

  • Jean Barclay, Long Term Medical Conditions Alliance

  • Michael Hake, Association of Directors of Social Services

  • Toto Gronlund, NHS Information Authority

  • Jonathon Fitzgerald, National Assembly for Wales

  • Patricia Ruddy, Scottish Health Department