Medical Records To Be Accessed Online, Under Government-Backed Proposals
Patients are to be given access to their medical records online under government-backed proposals, it emerged today.
The NHS Future Forum, which is advising the Government on its health reforms, said people should be able to download their medical history and view prescription and appointment details free, the Times reported.
Medical test results and hospital discharge notes would also be available under the scheme and patients would be able to obtain repeat prescriptions.
The group of doctors who make up the forum reportedly said the plans could be introduced in England within three years.
Health Minister Lord Howe said: "We fully support NHS patients having online access to their personal GP records.
"Our vision for a modern NHS is to give patients more information and control over their health.
"That's why the independent NHS Future Forum have continued to listen specifically on this issue and how we make it a reality for patients."
Under the scheme, patients will be able to point out mistakes in their records or request a second opinion from their GP, it was reported.
Patients can currently ask their GP for access to their records, but must explain their reasons for doing so.
The proposals could face opposition from GPs who may object to patients having unrestricted access to potentially sensitive information.
There are also likely to be concerns about the implementation of the scheme following the long-delayed attempt to upgrade NHS electronic medical records.
The Patients Association said the initiative would help people who are having difficulty persuading medical professionals to allow them access to their records, but stressed that patient confidentiality is paramount.
Katherine Murphy, its chief executive, told the Times: "There must be a guarantee that all patient data will be protected and that it will not be possible to trace back information to an individual."
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the Government was committed to the scheme in principle.
"I don't think the issue is whether we want to do it, it is simply how we go about doing it," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.
"We think patients should feel in the NHS that it is a case of 'No decision about me without me'.
"That means you have really got to have access to information and be able to participate fully in your care."