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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Cutting the red tape

17th March 2006

Health Minister Jane Kennedy and Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy announced plans that are designed to free frontline NHS staff to focus on patient care by ensuring that paperwork is kept to the minimum. 

This is a joint project by the Cabinet Office's Better Regulation Executive (BRE) and the Department of Health (DH). It recommends practical changes that remove or reduce unnecessary burdens caused by the way information is shared across the healthcare sector.

The Cabinet Office Minister responsible for better regulation, Jim Murphy, said that the report is about removing some of the barriers that inhibit frontline health and social care staff on a day-to-day basis. The intention is to clear up the confusion that currently exists around sharing patient information and removing some of the administrative burdens on staff.

Health Minister Jane Kennedy said that feedback from healthcare staff suggested that simple improvements and clarification could reduce the number of patient record requests by up to 300,000 annually, with the obvious benefit of freeing time to care for patients.

They emphasised that patients can remain confident that this work will not relax existing controls over the security, and confidentiality of their information.

The report sets out a number of specific outcomes to be implemented over the next year;

By December, a single information sharing protocol will be developed that cuts through the current confusion created by copious amounts of legislation and guidance.  This will enable health and social care staff to exchange information more effectively and appropriately.

By September, the Department of Health will issue guidance promoting consistent interpretation of legislation on the use of patient information for medical research.

The recommendations aim to make a paritcular difference in personal injury claims, which require healthcare staff across the UK to screen and copy patient records daily, occupying thousands of working-hours. The report aims to cut the number of requests for patient records by up to 300,000 per year.

The BMA said that they welcome the agreement which they hope will lead to reduced bureaucratic burdens on GPs.

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