Patients can 'opt out' of NHS IT system

Lord Warner confirmed patients will have the right to 'dissent', and lashed out at critics

Patients will be able to "opt out" of having their details stored and shared on the NHS's electronic care record system, according to the government.

Speaking at a conference in London last week, health minister Lord Warner confirmed patients will have the right to "dissent" and opt out from having their medical information shared as part of the £12.4bn NHS IT programme.

He said: "If patients do not 'opt out' they will be deemed to have given implied consent to the sharing of their information, under strict controls between those legitimately treating them."

Warner said all patients will be able to see what is held on their summary care record and added that access to the data will be strictly controlled by smartcards, with an audit trail of who has accessed them and alerts if unauthorised people try to do so.

The government will also launch a national campaign with roadshows and leaflets for most households in England to notify people about the new electronic medical records, ahead of the first adoptions of the summary care record service in spring 2007.

Warner also hit out at critics of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT in the NHS (NPfIT).

He said: "Let me be clear and unequivocal: the government is committed to ensuring that NPfIT is fully implemented and delivered. We are not going to be deflected by naysayers from any quarter. We recognise that more needs to be done on articulating the benefits that the programme will bring to patients and also to NHS staff."

And he rejected calls by 23 leading academics for a review of the NPfIT's technical architecture, saying the programme's management and suppliers should be allowed to concentrate on implementation and "not be diverted by attending another review".

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