This site is intended for health professionals only

Home access to patient medical records

A project is being piloted in Bolton to allow patients to look at their medical records on a home computer.

The plan was set out by "Connecting For Health" which is overseeing theintroduction of the new NHS IT system, the Spine, which will coverEngland.

The 14,500 patients in Bolton will be the first to have computerisedNHS records set up; they will receive letters telling them that dataincluding medications will be uploaded unless they object and will haveeight weeks to view their records and raise any concerns. Details canbe held back, or they can choose to have their entire record remainprivate.

They will also be able to reverse restrictions on what details areaccessible on their records. Staff will have smartcards and passwords,designed to restrict access to full data to those clinicians who needit, while administrative staff would only be able to see basic patientinformation.

The home access via the website Health Space, which will be phased infrom later this summer, will give people passwords to look at theirpersonal records from home. Connecting for Health says the site will behighly secure, and will have far more protection than websites such asthose which offer online banking. It is expected that another six areaswill be taking part in the scheme by the end of the year.