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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Health Records (Law Enforcement)

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Health Records (Law Enforcement) on 17th June 1986.


Mr. Ashdown Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will describe the circumstances in which information may be disclosed from medical records and from National Health Service records for any purpose of law enforcement; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Major Safeguarding the confidentiality of medical and other National Health Service records is primarily an ethical matter for the health professionals concerned. The disclosure of identifiable personal information from such records for a purpose other than that for which it was obtained would usually require the agreement of the doctors concerned, who would decide whether the consent of the patient should also be sought.

Professional guidance recognises that there may be cases, for example those involving serious crime, when the public interest outweighs the patient's right to confidentiality. The decision to disclose information would usually be for the doctor to make in the light of the circumstances of a particular case.

The department is currently preparing a Code on Confidentiality of Personal Health Information in the National Health Service which it is intended will be given statutory force and which will set out the limited circumstances in which personal health information may be disclosed without the patient's consent.