Weekly News – 4th February 2019

GDPR

I’m sure that some of you will have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new rules concerning the way in which your personal information, once collected by third parties, can then be used.  The changes were implemented in order to give more control, indeed more ownership of personal data to individuals.  In other words, this was supposed to be a measure which would protect the individual from the ever increasing use of stored personal data held by corporations and public sector organisations.

 

However, as with much legislation we find ourselves in a situation where what was intended often becomes obscured by the way in which the new legislation is used and that became very apparent to me on Friday when I met with General Practitioners and Surgery managers from a number of local GP surgeries.  For your local GP practice GDPR has become a problem since a request for access to the medical notes of a patient can be made and this obligation must be met with the costs being borne by the GP practice.  To put this in context there was a general consensus amongst the surgeries I met on Friday that to prepare and redact the medical notes in accordance with the law was a two to three hour procedure with a subsequent need for two hours of GP time on top to ensure that all sensitive material was dealt with correctly.

 

That’s a lot of time and there is also a huge amount of photocopying and postage bills than can amount to £50 with respect to some files.  The net result is that since the legislation was passed demand for medical notes has soared with the entire cost being borne by local surgeries.  One surgery had dealt with 11 requests since December, that’s an average of 33 hours staff time, 22 hours of GP time and around £600 of photocopying / postage costs.  In two months therefore GDPR requests for patient notes has taken half a working week for a GP away from dealing with patients in order to prioritise dealing with paperwork.  This is just wrong and I will be raising this issue at Westminster to try and resolve what must be a classic case of the law of unintended consequences.