David Cameron has said people should not believe “scare stories” about patients’ medical records being handed over to companies such as Google and Microsoft, if the Conservatives are elected.
In response to a question from E-Health Insider about how the party would deliver on its manifesto pledge to give people online health records, Cameron said: “Some of the scare stories you will have read in the papers that it will all be handed over to Google or some other company, don’t believe that.”
The Conservatives launched the first section of their draft manifesto last week. It dealt with the party’s pledges for the NHS, and said that patients would be able to check their health records as easily as their bank accounts and choose who to share them with.
It did not say whether a future Conservative government would persist with the NHS’ own HealthSpace organiser or bring in a private personal health record provider, as it was rumoured it might last summer.
Cameron answered questions on the draft manifesto at an event orgainsed by right-wing think-tank 2020 Health at the Kings Fund late last week. EHI asked whether bringing in another company would be quicker and safer for patients than developing HealthSpace.
Cameron said: “Obviously, safety is a vital and important issue. We don’t have a fixed view for how it [online records] should be done or who exactly should do it.
“What we have the view about is the sort of system we would move to. We would move to a system where you, the patient, have control over your health records and you have access to them.”
Cameron added: “It’s about putting the patient in charge of their own health records in a rather more post bureaucratic way, recognising that we are capable as individuals of making decisions for ourselves.”
The Conservative leader went on to talk about what he called the “information revolution” whereby his party would publish more data about NHS outcomes and success rates online.
He said: “We need to publish all the information about outcomes, infections, success rates for operations. I would publish the lot.”
He also claimed that scandals like that at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust would be less likely to happen if data around infection and mortality rates were more readily available.
“I think there will be some teething problems and some arguments, but I think that there are forces of progress and publishing more information will win through,” he said.
Cameron did not speak in detail about the National Programme for IT in the NHS, but maintained that he was in no doubt that “there’s an enormous amount that could be achieved by using IT in the NHS.”
Over the New Year, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley indicated that he thought it would be possible to abandon the local service provider contracts, because it might cost the holders more to deliver them than to give them up.