§ Mr. John Patten
The Department's guidance to health authorities on disclosure of hospital records for litigation purposes is contained in circular HC(82)16, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. The guidance is framed in the context of legal proceedings in this country, and the precise legal position in relation to proceedings outside the United Kingdom would depend on the country in which they were taking place. Decisions on release of hospital records for litigation purposes are for individual health authorities in consultation with their legal advisors, but I would expect authorities to observe the spirit of circular HC(82)16. Where medical records compiled by general practitioners are concerned, it is for them, where appropriate in consultation with other doctors who have contributed to the records, to decide whether and in what form information should be made available to the patient or, if the patient is requested, to a third party.
If the hon. Member has met problems with a particular case, perhaps he would like to write to me or the health authority or family practitioner committee concerned.