Patients will be allowed to request that their Summary Care Record is deleted after its creation, the Department of Health has agreed.

The decision is a reversal of the DH’s previous policy, which was that patients would not able to delete their record once an SCR had been created for them, although it would remain “masked” on the national database.

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director for the SCR, told EHI Primary Care that the DH had decided to change its position following discussions with the Information Commissioner.

She added: “People had contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office to say that they were concerned that we can continue to hold their records and the Information Commissioner asked us to review our position on this.”

Now patients who initially opt to have an SCR created will be able to request that their SCR is deleted unless the SCR has already been accessed, in which case the SCR will remain archived on the system.

Dr Braunold said: “Clinicians felt very strongly that if the SCR has been used it must never be deleted for medico-legal reasons.”

The DH had previously argued that records could not be deleted both for medico-legal reasons and because the system prohibited deletion of individual records.

The revelation that records were indelible, discovered after a Freedom of Information request by GP Dr Neil Bhatia, meant some PCTs had to change their information leaflets which suggested that patients would be able to change their mind about their SCR at any time.

This week a DH spokesperson said: “Our early adopter programme was set up precisely so we can learn from emerging issues, such as this one.

“Our priority is to ensure that the information provided to patients is accurate. As soon as we realised that one of our early adopters had inadvertently suggested the Summary Care Record could be deleted, if a patient changed their mind, we took immediate steps to update the website and information leaflet.

“Following discussions with the Information Commissioner we have agreed that anyone can now request that their record is deleted.

“In the event that a record was accessed as part of someone’s healthcare, a record of that access needs to be kept in case there was a subsequent investigation of the performance of a clinician or a dispute about the facts – this is in the best interests of both patients and clinicians.”


Related article: Summary care record is indelible