Opposition to the NHS electronic summary care records being piloted in Bolton is widespread among GPs in the town, a survey has revealed.
The survey findings come as the first electronic records are uploaded to the national data “spine” – a key element of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) – by eight GP practices out of the 57 in Bolton.
The summary records form part of the nascent NHS Care Record Service, which will eventually include both a summary and a detailed record on each patient. They are being piloted in six local areas, although only four of these have so far been announced.
But a survey of the town’s GPs by Bolton’s Local Medical Committee, which represents doctors, found that more than two-thirds of those who expressed an opinion were against going ahead with the summary care record programme.
Bolton’s 169 GPs were asked if they were “in favour of proceeding with the summary care record”. Of the 98 who replied, 67 said they did not want to proceed, with only 20 in favour. Those opposing the scheme make up 40% of the total number of GPs surveyed, including those who chose not to respond.
Dr Chris Woods, an LMC member whose practice is not taking part in the NPfIT pilot, said there were a number of worries about ten care records. “There are concerns about the nature of [patient] consent. The initial stage of uploading information is simply an ‘opt-out’ type of consent.”
Fears over the confidentiality of patient records had been highlighted by a security breach in the now-axed Medical Training Application System, an online system for allocating training places to junior doctors, Dr Woods added. “These systems have been vulnerable in the past,” he said.
Dr Woods added: “There are also concerns about the accuracy of the data and the actual usefulness of it. How useful will it be for such a huge expenditure of money?”
The British Medical Association has written to ministers urging that the summary records should not be rolled out nationally until the results of the pilot schemes have been reviewed.