§ Mr. Simon Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the categories of those who will have authorised access to patients' identifiable personal health information through the HealthNet network; what will be the process for obtaining patients' consent for such information to be available to these categories; and how patients will be informed that access has been made. 
§ Mr. Horam
The categories of those who have authorised access to patients' identifiable personal health information, and the process for obtaining patients' consent and for informing patients are the same, whether or not the information is to be passed over a network.
In August 1994, the Department issued draft guidance on confidentiality of patient information. The guidance has been re-drafted to address many comments received, including those from the British Medical Association and the Data Protection Registrar. The guidance, which will be published shortly, will clarify who may have access to patient information and will require the national health service to inform patients about the purposes for which patient information is used. The guidance will apply to all patient information, whether conveyed on paper or via computer systems and network. Copies of the guidance will be placed in the Library.