Statement following Pulse Magazine article concerning electronic data sharing

Pulse Magazine have published a story on their website highlighting concern that 'local GP data sharing schemes open practices up to legal challenges in some areas of the country'. While not named in the article, Berkshire West CCGs wish to reassure patients and GPs alike that we place the highest importance on confidentiality and information governance standards.

Connected Care is a new system for sharing information about a patient's medical condition across subscribing health organisations in Berkshire West. Patients who are registered with a GP in the area and attending one of the three early adopter locations can now be asked by the clinician for permission to access their GP record. If the patient agrees to the request, or in an emergency situation where the patient cannot give verbal consent, a locally agreed view of the GP record is streamed as read-only data for the clinician to review. The requirement we have set for consent to be granted before the partial record can be viewed is key to maintaining patient confidence in the process.

Dr Tim Walter, clinical lead for Connected Care in Berkshire West explains; "Patients' records have always been shared between GPs and hospitals. Connected Care simply does electronically and instantly what has previously been done via a fax machine. Thanks to Connected Care, clinicians are granted instant 24/7 access to vital and potentially life-saving information about a patient's health status, diagnoses and current medication. The benefits of joined up patient care and ensuring patients have the right prescriptions cannot be overstated. Indeed, public surveys show a very high degree of support for secure information sharing".

Berkshire West CCGs have worked closely with GPs and the LMC to ensure that Connected Care has the appropriate information governance arrangements in place and that local GPs remain the 'data owners' for their patient records. With strong governance in place, we're now taking time to explain the benefits of the system to everyone with an interest in this area. In addition to regular communications for doctors and clinicians, a new patient film explains our future vision for integrated care and enabling technologies, available on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/Z3XDy2jzSb4?t=51s


Media contact for Berkshire West CCGs
Steven Buckley - steven.buckley1@nhs.net / 07789 933 276
Sarah Rayner-Osbon - s.rayner-osbon@nhs.net / 07917 183 365

Notes for editors:

  • Three locations across are participating in the first phases of the project; Newbury Minor Injuries Unit, Reading Walk-In Centre and WestCall Out of Hours service.
  • Patient records are streamed live from GP systems and are read-only for any receiving clinician. The patient record cannot be copied and is always up to date, thus avoiding errors and duplication.
  • Staff approved to access patient data will only be shown information appropriate to their role. A full audit trail allows the NHS to track precisely who has accessed the system and viewed records.
  • Control over the sharing agreements rests with GPs who are able to authorise access to primary care record sharing.
  • Patients can opt out from sharing summary care record data via their GP
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