Grassroots GPs are to return to the debate for an opt-in approach to the transfer of patient identifiable data and argue that implied consent is insufficient for the release of information on named patients.

The outcome of the debate at next month’s national Local Medical Committees’ conference will be a sign of the current feeling among GP representatives about patient confidentiality and data sharing.

The conference will be debating the issues for the first time since the government changed its policy on Summary Care Records so that patients must give ‘consent to view’ their record at each encounter after information is uploaded on an implied consent basis.

More than ten LMCs have backed motions to the conference calling for an opt-in model to be used before data is uploaded to the national Spine or transferred from a patient’s record to a third party.

In previous years, the LMCs’ conference has demanded that patient data should only be uploaded to the Summary Care Record with explicit consent and last year it called for a halt to the development of the NHS Care Records Service after expressing no confidence in the government’s ability to store electronic patient records safely.

Somerset LMC is among those who have put a motion to the conference on patient confidentiality and data sharing. Its motion states that patients should give positive consent for the uploading of prescribing information.

Dr Harry Yoxall, secretary of the LMC, said the LMC’s motion was designed to stimulate debate rather than a reflection of a unanimous feeling amongst Somerset GPs.

He told EHI Primary Care: “Like most regions, there are split views in Somerset. The majority of GPs are taking the view that since the public are very much in favour of this information being available they don’t see what all the fuss is about – but some principals are concerned about this and believe information should not be uploaded without explicit consent.”

Somerset LMC is to be a fast follower PCT for the SCR and Dr Yoxall said the LMC was issuing “guardedly positive” information to its constituents about the project.

Surrey LMC has submitted a motion stating that an opt-in approach “empowers patients to understand the implications of any transfer of patient identifiable clinical information”.

Dr Richard Brown, one of the medical directors for Surrey and Sussex LMCs, said it was clear there was still concern from LMCs across the country about the issue.

He added: "I think there is still some insecurity on the part of my colleagues and also on the part of patients about whether we are getting this absolutely right."

The debate has been placed high up on the agenda at the conferenvce which Dr Brown said refelected the importance the conference organisers placed on the topic.

He added: "It’s another opprtunity for the profession to consider what we really think about this."

On Choose and Book, Leeds LMC has submitted a motion condemning “comments made by the minister for health in England that GPs are to blame for the low use of Choose and Book” and Liverpool LMC has called for “a more local default setting for Choose and Book compared to the current 99 miles” because most patients prefer to be treated close to home.

The LMCs’ conference takes place in London on 11 and 12 June.


Link: National LMCs’ conference agenda