Electronic patient records systems

My goal in this debate is to defend the right for the NHS to have an opted out system for its electronic Patient record. Initially when the idea an NHS electronic patient records systems was looked into, the department of health's ministerial task force decided that an opt out system will be ''the most practical, ethical and appropriate way forward'' and even though the program is 4 years behind schedule, I still believe that this to be the case.I would like to give you 2 reasons why I think the opt-out system is the best for an electronic database.

The first is Freedom of expression of patients view

Let me begin by exploring the concept of 'opting out' its advantages of it. Opting out will means that the patients records will be kept electronically and automatically unless the patients specifically requests their GP not to.

I know the propostions mentioned the issue of autonomy in such a system, but the patient does have a choice to exercise his or her right not to be included. Let me give you an example:

Scotland uses the opt-out approach for its emergency care summary, which extracts data from the GPs' records and hospital notes and is available to the out of hours service. People in Scotland were informed of this by a wide media and publicity campaign and invited to opt out. In 2006 Of nearly 3,300,000 patient on records, only 22 had opted out. This show also that if patients an given a right to exercise there choose and given the transparency of information, then this will not effect go against the data protection act and their rights to express themselves. These are the words of the former Information commissionaire, Richard Thomas

Consistent clinical information standards

Having a national health services means that it is important to standardise all clinical services thought the country so that everybody can expect the same level of care across the country. An nationwide service, like the NHS must have an integrated healthcare record system in order that patients' records can be access whenever and where ever the person get injured or ill. The time saved by having an opt out system to the emergency services, for example, will be is immense.

If you are taken ill and have your records in a n opt-out system , you will not need to worry about taking another full history from you as s/he can assess your Summary Care Record, with your consent, which will list your current medication, known allergies and adverse reactions. This will mean better a faster and better standard of care for the you. The EHR is part of the biggest non-military IT project in the world, the NHS national program for IT, and will save the NHS 4.2 billion. If everyone is on the system, it will mean a more efficient NHS because then standardised clinical codes can be used and the SNOWMED CT system can be implemented more easily. Also the Secondary Uses Service (SUS) will only work if given assess to all patients records. This will mean future predictions in healthcare planning, commissioning, public health, clinical audit and governance, performance improvement, medical research and national policy development, will all improve if we have an opt out system. Ethically the utilitarian view, where most people benefit should be used because of the importance of having an electronic database.

Having a 'opt in' system will mean that your GP has to explain and ask all his patients about the electronic database. This is an administrative burden and will take away from patient care.

The opt-out model allows patients to benefit from earlier availability of information, reduces the workload on hard pressed services, and cuts the bureaucracy for both practices and patients. I believe we should adopt an opt-out approach for contributing information to the NHS care record service but obtain consent, or have a legitimate clinical relationship with the patient, to access the clinical records.

In conclusion, with an opt out system, everyone, physicians and patients, benefits from the record being available electronically. A revolutionary idea such as the electronic patient database system will only work if people are put on the system and given the freedom of information to opt out, if they want. The technology will be quicker to implement and will benefit all, therefore I request you to vote against this motion.

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