Justice secretary Jack Straw has dropped controversial proposals that medical bodies had warned could see patients' confidential medical records being passed to third parties.

It had been feared that the proposals, in clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, would allow the government to access medical records and share them with other organisations.

Concerns

But a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said following concerns that the clause as defined was very wide and the powers it provided could be misused, Mr Straw had asked cabinet colleagues to withdraw the clause and launch a further consultation.

The U-turn came after eight organisations - the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Nursing, the Faculty of Public Health, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Medical Defence Union, and the Medical Protection Society - wrote to Mr Straw protesting about the proposals.

'Disastrous impact'

The organisations had warned that the clause 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".