By JACQUI THORNTON
June 30, 2005
PLANS to put patients' medical records on a central computer will put
millions at risk from hackers, GPs said yesterday.
They fear that releasing information to the system would betray
patients' trust, leaving people wide open to ID theft and other
The new electronic health record system being overseen by Health
Secretary Patricia Hewitt will allow doctors to see patient records
anywhere in England.
But Dr Eleanor Scott, a GP from Barnet, North London, told the British
Medical Association's annual conference that there would be huge
potential for unauthorised access.
And patients may become reluctant to talk about stigmatising
conditions such as sexually-transmitted diseases or mental illness.
She added: "Any such database presents a minefield of confidentiality
issues. Medical records could be accessed by many people working where
security is difficult to achieve.
"The risks of errors, unauthorised access, identity theft and
malicious tampering are legion."
She said the database would include details of hobbies, jobs,
religion, family and friends.
And Dr Scott told delegates in Manchester the system would cost more
than =A330billion to set up - far more than the Government's national
identity card scheme.
Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA=92s head of ethics, said the database may be
useful but warned that 100 per cent security was "unachievable".
Dr Simon Eccles, NHS head of IT, said people would not have to give
information about certain medical conditions.
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