You are likely aware that NHS England has determined from 1 Nov 2022 all patients will have complete prospective access to their medical records, with surgeries required to enable this en masse. This instruction also includes automatic provisioning prospective access for patients who turn 16 years of age.
Whilst we wish to support the principle of patient access, we are currently providing access in a manner that we determine to be safe (i.e. With third-party data redacted), to minimise the risk of data breaches pertaining to other individuals named in patient records. We also have significant concerns about the risks relating to safeguarding of vulnerable adults and children, and the risk of harm (up to and including loss of life, particularly femicide) that may result if/when patient data is revealed to third parties under coercion or threat, noting that under the current system when a patient moves surgery there is no guarantee that any redaction will transfer also, thus increasing risk. We have raised these concerns with NHS England, as have practices around the country, and have yet to receive a satisfactory response.
We therefore regret to advise that, in light of the current lack of ability to enable mass patient access to notes electronically, we are unable to comply with NHS England’s plan, for fear of the consequences to our most vulnerable patients. We WILL continue to enable individual-level patient access upon request, when we are sure the notes concerned have been appropriately and safely redacted. We trust in your understanding and are happy to discuss this with any patients as needed.