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GP bodies support guidelines for use of patient records in medical research
Date:6/28/2009

The two leading bodies representing GPs in the UK have backed a call by the Wellcome Trust for clearer guidance for GPs to ensure medical records can be safely used in research.

Patient records in general practice surgeries are a unique resource of information which can help medical researchers improve their understanding of disease, develop potential new treatments and improve patient care. The increasing use of electronic records should make it easier for researchers to use this information.

The public are generally supportive of this research: two-thirds of people would consider allowing personal health information to be shared for research purposes. However, this information is both sensitive and private and the public, patients and healthcare professionals must all have confidence that the security of personal information is safeguarded.

Today, the Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest medical research charity, publishes guidelines for best practice in the use of patient records for research purposes. The report was reached during a national consensus meeting held in 2008 with GPs, researchers and patient groups.

The guidelines Towards Consensus for Best Practice have been endorsed by the British Medical Association (BMA), the independent trade union and professional association for doctors and medical students, and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the professional membership body for family doctors in the UK and abroad.

Three overarching principles form the basis on which the guidelines were agreed. They are:

  1. Patient confidentiality and privacy must be safeguarded
  2. GPs and healthcare professionals should play the role of patient's advocate
  3. Public awareness and understanding of the use of records in research should be improved.

"We welcome the endorsement by the BMA and the Royal College of General Practitioners of the guidelines for the use of patient re
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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