NHS organisations have been urged by the Care Quality Commission to improve the way they use patient records.

The CQC said lack of co-operation among providers resulted in poor patient care, including delays caused by missed appointments and loss of privacy.

It said that although organisations supported the principle of co-operation, technical and cultural barriers caused breakdowns in communication.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “Healthcare organisations handle huge amounts of personal information about patients and staff. It is crucial to the delivery of high quality care that this is done well.

“Although there have been improvements in the systems to keep information secure, we are calling for more focus and action on ensuring that personal information is of high quality, that it is shared effectively with the right people, at the right time, so that care is truly joined up and tailored to patients’ needs.”

While 80 per cent of staff say patients’ information is treated confidentially, 30 per cent of patients complain they are not always given enough privacy when they discuss their condition or treatment.