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'Concern' at online medical records

Four out of five people will be concerned for the security of their medical records when details are published online, a poll has suggested.

And just 30% of medics thought that publishing medical records online was a good idea, according to a survey conducted by the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the NHS should become paperless within the next five years.

Mr Hunt said the move would save billions of pounds and improve services.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy and communications at MPS, said: "MPS has seen first hand how things can go wrong for patients and doctors when confidential medical information gets into the wrong hands.

"Imagine the teenage girl who has had a termination without her mother knowing or the patient who informs their doctor about abuse at the hands of their partner; if they were to accidentally leave their online record open at home, this could have dire consequences for their relationships and put extra pressure on the doctor to deal with the fallout.

"Patients expect the information they give to their doctor to be kept confidential and if this doesn't happen, it could cause a breakdown in the relationship of trust.

"We want a firm commitment from the Government that the information strategy will not compromise patient confidentiality - because once the contents of Pandora's box have been released into the wrong hands, the damage cannot be undone."

The MPS polled 1,700 members of the public and 650 MPS members.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The security of people's health records is of paramount importance and personal health information will never be 'published' online. It is vital that people's health information can flow around the health and care system so people get the best and safest care. Electronic record keeping will be adopted across the NHS by 2015, continuing to keep personal data safe and secure."

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