§ 3. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the extent to which medical information and other personal details about psychiatric patients entering hospital are computerised; where such records are kept; and to whom they are available.
§ Mr. Monro
My right hon. Friend's reply of 4th July to the hon. Gentleman covered psychiatric in-patients and, as stated then, all personal details are confidential. Information about psychiatric cases is held under conditions of strict security on the Scottish Office computer and access to it is restricted in all cases to named medical officers of the Scottish 462 Home and Health Department.—[Vol. 859, c. 155.]
§ Mr. Hamilton
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the guarantee given about confidentiality of information has been challenged and breached in the case of the national census? In that instance a guarantee was given to everybody in the country and it was breached in a number of instances. What guarantee is there that this information will not be available to anybody without the consent of the patient himself? Does he not agree that it is not sufficient to have the consent of the clinician or the doctor concerned? There must also be the consent of the patient, because there is growing concern about the continued invasion of personal privacy.
§ Mr. Monro
I note what the hon. Gentleman says about patients and I give him an absolute undertaking in regard to consultants. I know that the hon. Gentleman was in the Chamber last Friday for the debate on this subject, and I am sure he took note of the fact that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department said that there would be a White Paper later this year covering the health service.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether data entered in the computer include details of outpatients as well as in-patients?
§ Dr. Miller
I wish to ask two questions. First, what other records are entered in the computer? Secondly, what kind of computer is used, how many terminals exist, and to whom are they open?
§ Mr. Monro
I think I shall have to write to the hon. Gentleman about both parts of his question. This involves information relating to the reasons why a patient is in hospital and the treatment which he or she receives, but it is absolutely confidential. This matter is being examined by the Home Secretary in relation to the White Paper that is to be published later this year.