Intended for healthcare professionals


Presumed consent to access medical records removed from NHS constitution after protests

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 23 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b271
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    The UK government has quietly dropped a passage in the draft handbook to the NHS constitution that said that ministers had decided to give researchers the right to trawl medical records for research participants without the need for patients’ consent.

    Organisations that are charged with safeguarding patient confidentiality had objected strongly to a section in the draft handbook that said, “Patients can . . . expect that a health professional or a research professional who owes the same duty of confidentiality as a health professional may use care records, in confidence, to identify whether they are suitable to participate in approved clinical trials.

    “Appropriate patients will be notified of opportunities to join in, and will be free to choose whether they wish to do so, …

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