Connecting for Health (CfH) has told NHS primary care trusts that patients do not need to appear in person to opt out of the Summary Care Record (SCR).
The agency in charge of the NHS National Programme for IT has issued guidance that suggests it may be possible for patients to opt out through web forms.
It made the point that in many areas it would be difficult for people to appear in person, and cited the example of Dorset, one of the early adopter areas of the SCR, that made it possible to opt out through the internet.
Patients who wish to discuss their options still can do so either in person or over the phone.
The guidance has been issued after CfH set up an early adopter programme to discover the best way of operating the SCR. It was evaluated by a team from University College London.
The SCR will provide a central record of basic patient information accessible to healthcare staff through the NHS Spine. It has attracted criticism from privacy campaigners, and last year the Department of Health said that patients would have to provide explicit consent for their details to be uploaded onto the system.
Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director of the Summary Care Record Programme, said: "We have listened to our early adopters and decided we need to make sure there is an easier way to opt out than through a visit to the surgery. While it is important that patients are given the opportunity to talk through options, we also want to make it as easy as possible for those who have already made up their mind.
"Patients can be reassured that not only will their permission be asked before their SCR is accessed by any of the healthcare team, but if they change their mind at any point about their SCR being available to healthcare teams, this can be easily prevented."
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This article was originally published here.