ELECTRONIC RECORDS

Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 12

The case of a practice manager who had incorrect information about her health recorded on a national database without her knowledge has prompted questions in parliament about the NHS care record service.

Wycombe MP Paul Goodman told the Commons about constituent Helen Wilkinson, a practice manager in west London.

In 2004 she discovered that a coding error in her notes indicated wrongly that she had attended an alcohol advisory service.

The error was contained in records that were sent by University College Hospital London to NHS nationwide clearing service NWCS and therefore became widely available to other NHS organisations.

Ms Wilkinson was initially told that correcting the error was neither simple nor straightforward.

Mr Goodman said: 'Helen then took a drastic decision, but the only proper decision that she believed open to her. She decided to withdraw from the NHS as a patient altogether so that her records... could be withdrawn from NHS computer systems.' Junior health minister Caroline Flint confirmed that Ms Wilkinson's data had been removed from the database, despite reservations about doing so.

But Ms Wilkinson told HSJ that the debate had not answered her questions. 'The reality is that if you object to either the NCRS or the NWCS there is absolutely nothing in place that allows you to opt out.'