Medicopolitical Digest

Doctors vote to suspend cooperation in NHS Wide Network“Core values” initiative is welcomedDoctors criticise compulsory privatisation in health careMaintaining Medical Excellence: doctors' performanceBMA will separate science and educationConcentration of services threaten smaller hospitalsGPs reach agreement on deprivation paymentsRegularising immigration arrangementsIn vitro diagnostic devices may be controlled

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1095
  1. Linda Beecham

    Doctors vote to suspend cooperation in NHS Wide Network

    The BMA is so concerned that identifiable patient data will not be effectively protected in the NHS Wide Network that its council has voted overwhelmingly to suspend its cooperation in the implementation of the project; the proposed implementation date is 1 April 1996. It also resolved, at its meeting last week, to commission and prepare a security policy with standards which will enable identifiable information to be sent across the network; this should aim for high standards of data security on potentially insecure networks.

    The BMA believes that there should be a statutory code of practice for those using the system and not simply a code of guidance as the Department of Health has suggested and that the system must be as secure as possible by introducing safeguards such as encryption. The association has drafted a bill on the use and disclosure of personal health information, which it hopes will be considered in the House of Lords. The General Medical Council and the medical royal colleges agree with the BMA that an appropriately drafted statute is the key to protecting patients and essential functions such as research. The department believes that civil law will be sufficient to deal with any breaches of confidentiality.

    In a letter to Dr Graham Winyard, medical director of the NHS Executive, the secretary of the BMA pointed out his concern that the executive would issue a security guide alone and that the link in compartmentalising information was to be the responsibility of user organisations. All the evidence, Dr Mac Armstrong said, was that the greatest threat of abuse came from inappropriate access within organisations—there will be 180000 users in the NHS network—so it was essential that the integrity of all personal health information was adequately protected. He believed that there should be security policies in …

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