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GPs: share information and improve care

I actually start this week’s blog with something that happened last week – I know, shame on me.

The Health Foundation had invited me to an event on patient access to their records which I ambled along to. There were about forty people there, mainly eminent doctors or professors so I thought listening and not saying anything stupid would be a good start.

Overwhelmingly most thought it was good that people should have access to their own records for two reasons:

• It is information about them so it is right that they have access
• They will take greater care of themselves the more they know about their health

A third reason came to me though. If the patient has control over who can see their information, will this lead to carers getting more information helping them to provide better care and support? Many carers feel that health professionals use confidentiality inappropriately to keep vital information from them that prevents them from giving the care they need to. Some carers say the health professional won’t even talk to them.

In a 2003 survey by Rethink, only 51% of carers said that they did not have regular contact with their health professional and yet only 8% of mental health service users said they did not want their carer to have this contact. Health professionals must ask the question of the patient – “do you have a carer who you would like to receive certain information?” It’s that simple.

After finding the courage to bring this up, a Dr Amir Hannan spoke to me about his work. Whilst the other doctors were agonising how they could make records available to patients, he told me that over 700 of his patients already do. And what’s more, he wants to know how he can help carers get more information.

He took over Dr Harold Shipman’s practice and made it a priority to rebuild trust. He does this by trusting his patients and carers with information and listening to them, and seeing himself as the servant to them. How many carers would love to have such a relationship with their doctor?

Take Care
Gordon

Visit The Princess Royal Trust for Carers website for professionals working with carers

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July 8, 2009 - Posted by | Health | ,

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