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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Patient confidentiality concerns

24th February 2011

Doctors’ leaders have raised concerns over flaws in the new Health and Social Care Bill.


The British Medical Association fears that these could threaten the confidentiality of patient records and that there are also issues about clauses in the Bill on information sharing in a reshaped NHS.

The BMA has raised its concerns with the Minister of State Simon Burns.

They include fears that the Bill may not keep patients’ identities secret and could lead to patients failing to pass on information to health professionals.

The concerns centre around a clause in the bill which gives a number of bodies, including the Secretary of State, the Commissioning Board and the NHS Information Centre, to disclose information for "unspecified health purposes".

The BMA letter states: “As currently drafted, there is very little in the Bill relating to confidentiality and information governance controls, which are so fundamental to medical practice and the trust-based relationship between doctors and patients.”

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, added: “Fears that their data may be shared with others may result in patients withholding important information; this may not only affect their own health but has implications to the wider health service.”

The Patients Association echoed the concerns and suggested the situation could impact on the doctor/patient relationship.

The Department of Health there was no question of the Health and Social Care Bill undermining the confidentiality of patients and their clinicians and has pledged to work with the BMA over the concerns.


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