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RCN warning over proposed medical records legislation and effect on patient confidentiality

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The RCN has warned that patient confidentiality and public trust in health professionals would be damaged if proposed legislation to increase government access to personal data was applied to medical records.

A clause in the draft coroners and justice bill would potentially grant the government powers to access confidential medical records and share them with third parties. The RCN said it had ‘grave concerns’ over such proposals.

It is one of eight organisations – including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Surgeons – that have written to Justice Secretary Jack Straw calling for medical records to be exempt from the clause.

The letter states that such a proposal would ‘undermine the presumption of confidentiality, corrode trust in the doctor-patient relationship and could have a disastrous impact on both the health of individuals and the public’.

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