Last month I visited my GP and was (I thought) referred to the gastroenterologist at St Mary’s.

However three days later I received a letter from a company called Medefer informing me they had received the referral.

They explained they provide remote access to specialist consultants with a view to easing pressure on the NHS.

Very laudable and a good way of reducing waiting lists.

I was offered the opportunity to have my care transferred back to St Mary’s.

As I had previously been seen by the team at St Mary’s, I decided I would prefer to wait and see the team familiar with my problems.

I emailed Medefer immediately on receipt of this letter and expected to be referred back to St Mary’s.

However, I then received a letter saying the referral had been made and my notes reviewed, the plan suggested by their consultant was useless as my GP and I had already tried his suggestions and found they did not work. (Hence the referral to a specialist).

So, the company did not wait to see whether I agreed or not and presumably did not thoroughly review my notes.

Finally, because I had said I did not wish for their input, they referred me back to my GP.

So one month on, I am back where I started and without a specialist referral.

I am concerned about this because it appears I had no choice with regard to the referral and I am also concerned because Medefer tell me they do not need to ‘rely on the patient’s consent to share and process personal data as they are acting in the public interest.’

So, any patient can apparently be referred to Medefer without knowing to whom they are being referred and Medefer can access and use the patient’s personal data without requiring their knowledge or consent.

This seems wrong to me, but my main reason for writing is to make other people aware that their GP referral may be sent to a third party and not to St Mary’s.

Knowing in advance will give people a choice and the opportunity to discuss it with their GP.

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