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NHS treatment denied to those refusing e-records

PUBLISHED: 16:59 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:14 07 September 2010

Robyn Rosen PATIENTS who do not want their medical information stored electronically will be refused treatment by Haringey mental health services. The news has come to light after Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental NHS Health Trust told a patient that if

Robyn Rosen

PATIENTS who do not want their medical information stored electronically will be refused treatment by Haringey mental health services.

The news has come to light after Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental NHS Health Trust told a patient that if he refused to have his records kept electronically his treatment would be declined.

A new system - called CSE Servelec's RiO - replaced the old paper record system at the trust in 2007. Now there is no paper-based alternative available.

A trust spokesman said that a number of concerns about the new system had been raised by patients but the new system was "safer".

Last year, the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead experienced huge problems - including missed appointments and cancelled details - after it attempted to transfer about 327,000 patient records to a new electronic system.

And residents and campaigners have expressed concerns about future problems for the Haringey system.

Crouch End resident Sue Hessel, of the Better Local Healthcare Campaign, said: "I think this is blackmail.

"To say that they won't treat you because you haven't co-operated with their bureaucracy is horrible.

"The concern is a very valid one and I think everyone should be concerned about it.

"It might be innocent to store records. But we don't know down the line what they will do with them - especially with privatisation going on. It's not as benign as it looks."

The trust spokesman added: "Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust recognises and respects that people may have concerns about their medical records being maintained on an electronic system.

"In all instances, we would first seek to reassure patients that their records are safer on an electronic system than a paper-based one and that potentially the trust should be in a better position to provide them care with an electronic record."

He said that the system was not currently part of the national Spine programme - where information can be passed across NHS services - and that all details were not currently shared but might be in the future.

"No healthcare professional would be able to treat a patient without making a record, because to do so could be an act of clinical negligence and expose them to disciplinary action," he said.

"If this was explained to a patient and they understood but still insisted that no electronic record could be made of their treatment, while we would be willing to treat them, it could only be under conditions of appropriate clinical governance which includes keeping a safe and secure electronic record of their care. To decline this would be to decline treatment.

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