Patient confidentiality and privacy must be safeguarded
GPs and healthcare professionals should play the role of patient advocate
Public awareness and understanding of the use of records in research should be improved
The guidelines cover the use of anonymised, coded and identifiable data from patient records and include recommendations on how to identify and approach potential research participants and ensure they receive appropriate information to allow them to make an informed choice about whether or not to participate. They have been endorsed by the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). BMA Head of Science and Ethics Dr Vivienne Nathanson commented: "The first priority of GPs must be to deliver high-quality healthcare. But they must also protect patients if their records are to be used in research and ensure that the confidentiality of patient data is safe and secure at all times" (see press release).