Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 11:06 UK

Tories plan access to NHS files

Andrew Lansley on the Tory plans for opening access to medical records

NHS patients would be able to access their own medical records online under proposals by the Conservatives.

Under plans to be outlined on Monday, every patient would have a username and password and IT firms such as Google or Microsoft could host the information.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said it would give people "greater control over their own health care".

He dismissed reports a Tory government would raise VAT to 20%, insisting the party had "absolutely no such plan".

'More responsibility'

The medical data plan is due to be set out following a health review commissioned by the Conservative frontbench health team.

Mr Lansley said it would help patients understand their own treatment better and "make sure that they are looking at what is happening to them".

He said users could update their medical records with information like blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Mr Lansley said he wanted to move away from the "top-down, centralised" NHS IT system introduced by Labour into one which is "decentralised, which is led by users".

This, he argued, would make data more secure.

They could also flag up questions to be answered by their GP or consultant, he suggested.

Similar schemes have already been pioneered in the United States and Canada, where a local records are held by the doctor overseeing a patient's care.

Mr Lansley added: "If we're going to ask people to take more responsibility for their health, which I think is an important part of improving our overall health outcome, and controlling health expenditure in the longer term, then we need people to be engaged with it."

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told the Observer that the plan was an "interesting idea" which could help GPs and patients alike if introduced correctly.

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