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Broken commitments on access to health records

NOTE: The Code of Practice on Access to Govenment Information was introduced by the Conservative Government in April 1994 as an alternative to a freedom of information act. The Code has now been superseded by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which came fully into force on 1 January 2005. An archived version of the Code is available on the The National Archives website here.

The Department of Health has agreed to publish the previously secret papers of a group advising ministers about the fees charged to patients asking to see their health records, following a challenge by the Campaign.

The Department initially refused to release the working papers of the Health Records and Data Protection Review Group, citing an exemption in the open government code on harm to the frankness of internal discussions. The Campaign argued that the exemption had been wrongly applied, and the Department has now made the papers available on its web site.

It has also revised its guidance on access to health records, after the Campaign pointed out that it broke ministerial promises that patients would be able to have their own views about a disputed matter added to their records, and NHS bodies would be urged to deal with requests within 21 days, instead of the 40 day limit set by the Data Protection Act.

 

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