Should Trading Standards be able to access medical records?

Most people consider their medical records to be highly confidential and would not want them available to anyone else with their consent. But should they be able to?

Let me give you two examples.

1 – a guy was offering a bogus health remedy. Bogus health remedies are quite difficult to deal with depending on how they are described/sold.

This guy was claiming he had previously had a serious illness and had been able to treat himself with the remedy and was now offering it to others.

It would have been very useful to be able to access his medical records and confirm he actually had the illness – if he had not then it would have been easy to demonstrate fraud. The more difficult option we were faced with was trying to disprove his claim (or opinion) that his remedy had treated him (which is near on impossible)

2 – a guy ripped people off for hundreds of thousands. A critical part of his story was that he had been seriously ill for a 4 month period which is why he was not able to run his business – which is why it failed – which is why people lost a lot of money.

In this particular case the 4 month time period was very important but we couldn’t disprove his point (remember the onus is on us to prove a point not the suspect to disprove it). As it happens we were able to deal the issues in other ways but it created a lot more work and caused a lot of delays. If we had been able to categorically prove he was not ill in that period then proving our case would have been much quicker/easier.

I suspect Trading Standards would only try to access medical records without consent in serious cases (and probably only after consent was requested and refused). However, the rights of the patient/suspect need to be weighed up against the people who may be victims and lost large sums of money or suffered medical problems because of false claims made by the patient/suspect.

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