Jeremy Hunt has formally announced that patients will be able to access their entire medical record online by 2018.
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Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, the health secretary said the electronic records will be “read and write”, meaning patients will be able to add comments and correct errors in their records. However, Mr Hunt admitted the NHS has “not won the public trust” in its use of patient data.
GP records are already available online to many patients, but Mr Hunt said all patients would be able to access their primary care records by next year. All healthcare interactions will be available by 2018.
Mr Hunt would not be drawn on the costs of the work to put all patient records online, but insisted it was deliverable within the timeframe.
He said this afternoon that the move will empower and inform patients about the quality of care being provided. He added: “When patients start accessing their medical records they start thinking about their healthcare in a different way… when you have shared access you have shared endeavour.”
Mr Hunt referred to the “completely unacceptable” data breach at 56 Dean Street clinic in London, which was revealed today, where the HIV status of nearly 800 patients was mistakenly leaked.
In response to these concerns, Mr Hunt said there will be a review of standards of data security by the Care Quality Commission, with clear guidelines for the protection of data created by Dame Fiona Caldicott, the national data guardian for health and care.
This work will be completed by January and from next year the new guidelines will be assured through CQC inspections and NHS England commissioning processes.
The independent oversight provided by Dame Fiona will also be strengthened, with her role given a statutory footing similar to the role of the chief inspector of hospitals.
Mr Hunt also stated a further ambition for a quarter of smartphone users, or 15 per cent of all NHS patients, to routinely access NHS advice, services and medical records through apps by the end of 2016-17.