Headlines: October 23rd, 2002

National Health service patients, doctors and nurses are to be asked for their views on a new system of managing information as part of a major consultation on patient privacy to be carried out by the NHS Information Authority.It is to seek views on a possible national charter for sharing information, a code of practice for healthcare staff, a caring model for the future on public information that explains patients’ rights and the way the NHS uses health records.

The model for patient privacy is part of a health service programme to improve information systems and will be used in the development of a first generation computerised health record by 2005 and a full record by 2008.

Research by the NHS Information Authority and the Consumers’ Association has found that members of the public would feel at ease about Government plans for health records to be stored on a networked computer system only if the health service produced a clear patient agreement or charter setting out how the information would be protected.

More than a thousand NHS organisations and patient groups have been asked to take part in the three-month consultation. Individual patients are being encouraged to take make their views known by completing short questionnaires on the Information Authority’s website or by using information packs available from the authority.

Marlene Winfield, the Information Authority’s lead on patient liaison, said, “We are taking every opportunity to consult and involve everyone who uses or is involved with the NHS because we want to make sure confidentiality¬† works for all concerned.”

She said in the future the health service would have the chance to share much more information about patients in order to deliver the best possible healthcare and to manage services more efficiently.