The security of patients’ records is being put at risk by the decision of hospital trusts to outsource their administration to overseas’ companies, an MP claimed.
Labour MP John Spellar (Warley) said a Freedom of Information request found thousands of appointment letters were being written by foreign firms as hospital trusts looked to cut their administration bill.
West Middlesex University Hospital in Isleworth had outsourced 230,000 letters while Whittington Hospital in Highgate, North London, had asked foreign companies to write 90,000 letters.
Speaking outside the Commons, Mr Spellar said: “I think there are some issues around confidentiality given the records of some government departments in keeping our information safe.
“I think there is an underlying issue about the security of our medical records because we have so far had half a dozen or so requests back and all of them have shown quite substantial amounts of work being taken off-shore.”
Mr Spellar earlier raised the issue in the Commons during the business statement. He said Epsom Hospital had outsourced 11,000 while Kingston Hospital had sent 17,000 letters overseas to be written up.
In a question to new Commons leader Andrew Lansley, he added: “As medical secretaries are laid off, can we have a debate as to whether the health secretary can justify taking away British jobs from British workers?”
In reply, Mr Lansley said when Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge attempted to cut costs the same way, they gave up.
He said: “I was very interested in my own constituency just a few years ago that Addenbrookes, a major hospital, had outsourced some of their activity of that kind but brought it back to this country as a consequence of the quality that they could deliver here.”