HC Deb 26 May 1978 vol 950 cc808-9W
Dr. Edmund Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how he proposes to ensure that any clinical information held in the pre-school health module planned by the Child Health Computing Committee will remain confidential and be used only in the clinical interests of patients.

Sir George Young

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will guarantee that clinical information which it is proposed to hold in the pre-school health module project of the Child Health Computing Committee, will remain confidential and be used solely in the clinical interests of patients;

(2) what representations he has received from the medical profession about the pre-school child health module;

(3) whether he will allow the pre-school child health module scheme to progress further without the agreement of the medical professions representative organisation.

Mr. Moyle

The Child Health Computing Committee which put forward proposals recently for the development of a pre-school health system is a multi-professional body composed of representatives of all regions of the National Health Service, the Department and the Welsh Office as well as the British Paediatric Association and the General Medical Services Committee of the British Medical Association. During development of the system regard will be paid to the following ethical principles to safeguard the privacy of the patient—

  1. 1. Identifiable information is to be regarded as held for the specific purpose of the continuing care of the patient and should not be used without appropriate authorisation or the consent of the patient (parent or guardian in the case of a child) for any other purposes.
  2. 2. Access to identifiable information held in medical records is to be confined to the author and to the person clinically responsible for the patient during the episode from which the data has been collected (or their successors) unless specifically authorised by the clinician in the clinical interest of the patient.
  3. 3. An individual is not to be identifiable from data supplied for statistical or research purposes except when follow-up of the individual patient is a necessary part of the research (and either the patient has given informed prior consent or consent has been obtained from the Chairman of an appropriate ethical committee).

The system will be the subject of continued consultation among health authorities, organisations representing the medical profession and other interests and, when developed, it will then be for individual authorities to decide whether or not to adopt it.

Representations have been received from the Central Ethical Committee of the British Medical Association and my Department is in correspondence with the Committee's Secretary, following a meeting with him and NHS representatives on 19th May at which the above principles were discussed.