Lecture hallA recent E-Health Insider Primary Care editorial was on GPs’ rejection of patient record sharing at the BMA’s local medical committees’ conference. Do you agree? Join the debate below.

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The British Medical Association’s local medical committees’ conference showed just how far Connecting for Health (CfH) still has to go to win over many local sceptical grass roots GPs. Despite promises that GPs would be consulted on the content of shared care records and that their development would be ‘incremental’, delegates rejected a motion saying that patient care will “benefit from the safe sharing of electronic information across the NHS".

Whatever their very real concerns about the limitations of the NHS IT programme or safeguards on data sharing, it is genuinely shocking that clinicians can seriously suggest patient care is safer or better by withholding clinical information on individuals from all those involved in their care. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

Much of the responsibility rests with the DH for failing to adequately consult or provide a clear policy on data sharing, consent and confidentiality. Having helped push some GPs into a rejectionist stance, the DH and CfH now need to set out and win the arguments on the benefits of shared records. Unfortunately there has been no clear, concise vision of the systems to be delivered, how they will work in practice, and most importantly, what specific clinical benefits will be delivered to patients.

Hearts and minds can be won if reliable systems that meet clearly defined needs are delivered to primary care. QMAS was a good start; electronic transfer of prescriptions will meet a real need; and even bigger benefits should flow from GP-to-GP record transfers.