GPs in Northern Ireland could see their administrative burdens eased thanks to an initiative aimed at simplifying the legal request process for patient records.
Following collaborative work between BMA Northern Ireland and the Law Society, doctors will now be able to access a joint consent form when handling solicitors’ requests for patient records.
Part of a pilot scheme, the form seeks to improve on the often inconsistent and inefficient way in which legal requests for records are made.
Previously solicitors would make requests to GPs for medical records relating to their client, without it being clear to the doctor whether their patient had given consent for the release of these records.
Through the development of a joint consent system, bringing together doctors, solicitors and patients, it is hoped that the authorisation and release process will be simplified and sped up thereby giving GPs more time to care for patients.
BMA Northern Ireland GPs committee chair Alan Stout said he hoped the new system would mean that doctors would face less paperwork and be able to give more focus to their clinical duties.
He said: ‘Administration workload for GPs has increased exponentially over the past few years and changes in data governance were adding to this burden.
‘By developing this form in conjunction with the Law Society of Northern Ireland we hope that the process will be simplified and will free up GP time to see patients.’
The new form provides doctors, solicitors and their clients clear and concise instructions on the request process, with the form provided by the solicitor and completed following instructions from their client.
Speaking about the joint initiative, Law Society of Northern Ireland senior vice president Eileen Ewing said: ‘The Law Society is delighted to be working with the BMA on this joint pilot initiative which will undoubtedly support both professions in the services they provide to clients and patients.’
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