Mental health charity MACA urged the House of Lords to reject
proposed new regulations that would allow the exchange of
confidential patient information without patients’
The Lords was due to consider the Draft Health Service (Control
of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 this week. These
regulations are being brought in under the Health and Social Care
Act 2001 and introduce powers for bodies to obtain confidential
patient information, without patient consent, to assist the work of
cancer registries, communicable disease surveillance and medical
But MACA has concerns that the regulations could include the
records of those with a mental illness, and knows of service users
who are “seriously appalled” that personal confidential information
could be made available to others without their prior consent.
“The regulations are very widely drawn to include not only
“communicable disease” but also “other risks to public health”,”
said chief executive Gil Hitchon.
“As drafted, these regulations could potentially be misused to
obtain confidential information about mentally ill people who are
considered a risk to the public. If people with mental health
problems believe this they may be deterred from contacting
services, putting their own health at risk.
“Unless this “other risks” phrase is removed, the regulations
should not be passed,” he said.