Fears over plans to put NHS records online

Health records could be made available online

Health records could be made available online

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Bradford Council’s health scrutiny chief has condemned plans to give patients online access to their medical records saying he fears they could be targeted by internet hackers.

Councillor Mike Gibbons, chairman of the Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, said he was concerned NHS Yorkshire and the Humber’s proposal to make personal health records available on the internet was ‘not the safest of ideas’ and didn’t believe their security could be guaranteed.

The NHS is inviting views from patients about its plan, which it says will encourage people to be ‘more pro-active’ about managing their health.

But Coun Gibbons said: “Given that patients have access to their records via their GP surgery, I’m not sure placing them online is the safest of ideas.

“It’s a concern that internet security is not as strong as everyone would wish and adding such records to all the information that’s out there means they are there for other people to hack into.

“We hear of banks being targeted by hackers and I don’t believe secure is secure where the internet’s concerned.”

The NHS is holding an event at Leeds City Museum at Millennium Square, Leeds, from noon to 4.15pm on Friday, March 22, where patients can give their opinions on the proposal to ‘empower’ people.

Coun Gibbons said if it went ahead, he believed patients should be allowed to ‘opt out’ if they did not want their records to be placed on the web.

“I can see that checking online can be easy, but it’s less confidential,” he added.

“I think if you have got to the point you want to access your records you would go to your doctor.

“People should really build a relationship with their doctor and surgery and go to them with any questions they want answering.”

Dave Lang, programme director for the Heath Informatics Service, said the Government had published information strategy ‘The Power of Information’ and wanted every GP practice in England to be in a position where it could offer patients online access to read their records by 2015.

“The NHS aims to empower patients by providing them with more information than ever before, including everyone having access to their medical records,” he said.

“We want to do this in a way that meets the population’s needs, so we’d like people to come and share their thoughts with us and help us design a modern health service for everyone.”

Members of the public are invited to the consultation event, where they will hear about the NHS’s plans for the future and will be given the chance to share their experiences, views and suggestions for how the NHS can provide the service.

The afternoon will include talks from NHS staff and informal interactive workshops exploring the reasons why many patients have not accessed their medical records in the past. They will also look at how the NHS can provide access to records and plan ahead.

Places are limited and must be booked in advance by visiting events.yorksandhumber.nhs.upk/all/455 or calling (0113) 2952040.

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