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Audio-recording your consultations with NHS doctors

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“ If a patient asks to record a consultation – do not assume the worst and think the patient does not trust you or is trying to ‘catch you out’, that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, a patient recording the consultation might actually be to your advantage. There’s often so much discussed in a consultation that the patient might not take it all in, so a recording can help to ensure they don’t miss any important information.





It says nothing new – but good on the authors for saying it clearly, where and in the manner they have. (PS. Dear authors – just in case any of you should stray this way: I note that each of you acknowledges an ‘affiliation’ to or with Birmingham City Hospital. I’ve had a look at the website of the NHS Trust which operates it. No policy for patients to read about recording consultations. Give ‘em a jog?)

Thank you for that link. I will print out that page and add it to my articles to show a doctor who might become unduly worried about me recording my consultation.

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Sorry – it's just that someone just message me and asked me to open this thread because they wanted to add some information.

Hello shallowthought9 and welcome to this thread. For what it is worth I think that in the light of the clearly disgraceful way your (former)  behaved it is very generous of you to contribute to a thr

Yesterday, the Times carried two medical articles on two different pages, without any linking comment.


1. The first was headlined ‘ Doctors who trained abroad ”far more likely to be incompetent”


Sources and some statistics were, of course, cited, and those included the GMC’s own records. Irish-trained, twice as likely, apparently. Bangladesh-trained, 13 times more likely, it is suggested.


2. The second article was entitled ‘Medical schools turn down 770 straight-A applicants’. It went on to explain that there is ‘a shortage of doctors in the NHS’, and:


“The government says it must restrict places because it takes £230,000 to fully train each doctor. Last year the NHS was forced to hire thousands of foreign doctors to fill jobs.’







I, too, have frequently read articles that foreign doctors are more likely to be dragged in front of the GMC for medical errors.



I believe the government announced last year that it will be training more doctors and that there is a suggestion that they will be compelled to work for the NHS for a minimum of 5 years. We'll see how that pans out.



However, the other side to foreign doctors (and nurses) magnetically attracted to working in the UK is that their own countries, who perhaps have spent equal amounts in training them, lose their much needed skill, especially from the poorer countries.



Oh, and Ford, I think it very unlikely that people who voted for Brexit believed that the money saved would go to the NHS. That's just political flimflam. The strategy is that if they repeat something often enough it becomes true.

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‘usually it is to help them remember and cooperate with important advice or share it accurately with family members’
that is a good and fair point.

as posted before, a doc prints out the appointment for such reference. a recording wld make no adverse difference?




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That quote is indeed very useful. It summarises what others have already researched and reported, but it belongs in what I think of as the 'laminate list'. As MyTturn suggests: durable pieces of succint authority to produce in the face of those ignorant of law and practice in their own field.




And talking of ignorance:


"The medic 'took his patient hostage', refusing to take the needle out of his arm until he deleted the video"


Thanks to the viewer who has just sent me the story with this strapline, from November last year. Altogether extraordinary:-





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  • 2 months later...



Manoeuvre I: Have a backup recorder to record any discussion which results in the main recorder being turned off.


Manoeuvre II: Use your backup recorder to record any discussions which arise when replaying a conversation to someone else from your main recorder.


Both situations can be interesting.

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  • 1 year later...

Hypothetical question.


My mom is having a Continuing Care Assesment to see if she is eligible for funded care. The people attending are the Community Psychiatric Nurse, Me (who has power of attorney), my wife and 2 people from the care home.


My question is can I record the conversation without their knowledge?

I believe that the CPN and Care home workers are playing down my mothers condition so she does not trigger the funding process.


Can I then email them afterwards to let them know I recorded the conversation and willing to give them a copy for their records

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Hello, Zentrix. I am glad to say the answer to your first question is ‘yes’. You will not be breaking any law if you are doing this for purely personal purposes (such as looking after your mother).


Indeed, I can acknowledge that I have, more than once, been in circumstances pretty much identical to those you describe and have always (privately) audio-recorded all such meetings.


As regards your second question – concerning afterwards telling the parties involved that you have recorded them without their knowing and offering copies of the recording – well, that’s a tactical point rather than a legal one. My inclination has always been not to let on unless and until absolutely necessary. Just because you are legally entitled to do what you propose doesn’t mean to say that those with whom you are dealing know the law, or would respect it even if they did. The Nursing and Midwifery Council, for instance, have recently produced a ‘policy’ about recording by patients of their treatment which is, in some material respects, ’illegal’. They could raise spurious objections and e.g. try excluding you from future meetings, in a fashion which would obviously hinder your ability to act on your mother’s behalf.


In this respect, caution is required, in my opinion. Best of luck.


Legal note: this now quite old and certainly voluminous thread has had occasion to cite the relevant exemption from the Data Protection Act 1998 (section 36) many times. This statute has now been superseded by the Data Protection Act 2018 where the equivalent provision can be found at section 21 (3). Restrictions on ‘data processing’ of ‘personal data’ do not apply where it is carried out


“…by an individual in the course of a purely personal or household activity.”


(http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/12/section/21/enacted )

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  • 7 months later...

Sorry – it's just that someone just message me and asked me to open this thread because they wanted to add some information.

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No problem at all. I stopped 'leading' this topic some while ago for more than one reason but including the fact that in contrast to when I started it back in 2010 - when I was really scratching around to contribute relevant personal knowledge\legal research and to find any related internet comments at all - there is now extensive internet commentary on the subject all over the place;  some of it is still inaccurate, but ,nevertheless, it is now an entirely acknowledged fact that many patients would like audio-recordings of their appointments to take home - and it is well- established in this country ( and in many parts of the USA) that such activity ( including 'undeclared' recording e.g. if a patients fears an ignorant\adverse reaction from a clinician) is entirely legal. Which is where I wanted to get to all those years ago.


If someone would like to introduce further facts or a particular line of discussion I would be only too happy if they re-awakened this thread, but please may I say don't rely on me for any swift response or extended reply. After all, several the other previous (and loyal) contributors probably now know pretty as much about  these matters as I do, and may be happy to pick up points posted. I will, I trust, at least get around to saying 'hi' to any new contributor eventually, as I think I have always managed to, in the past.


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I have held off contributing for many years. For reasons which will become obvious.

I am a doctor and several years ago a patient, who I cannot name for confidentiality reasons, covertly recorded a consultation.

Six months later he posted a YouTube video with highly edited extracts of this recording, accompanied by copyrighted pictures of me taken from websites, along with my full name and where I worked. The title of his submission was defamatory, as there was no evidence in the video that I was as the title stated. YouTube agreed and he had to change the title. I can give no more detail as that would breach his confidentiality, even though he put it in the public domain.

The facts were distorted, but I was advised my my legal advisors that I could take no other action.

All the allegations were untrue.

This was a betrayal of trust between a professional and his patient and he furthermore made a sufficient number of racist remarks during the consultation that I felt I could not continue to treat him. I offered to refer him to my senior colleague for further management.

I have not seen him since, but his videos are still indexed by Google.

This is the downside of recording.

I will always agree to a recording (audio or even video)  even though I am not photogenic, as I have over the last 35years striven to be open and honest with nothing to hide. 

But this episode revealed the downside, and I am, all this time later, still angry and feel betrayed. I was, after all, just trying to help him.

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Hello shallowthought9 and welcome to this thread. For what it is worth I think that in the light of the clearly disgraceful way your (former)  behaved it is very generous of you to contribute to a thread such as this still affirming:-


I will always agree to a recording (audio or even video)  even though I am not “photogenic, as I have over the last 35years striven to be open and honest with nothing to hide.


I am glad you got shot of the racist and congratulations on at least getting youtube to remove some of the commentary. I can’t comment much on your lawyer’s advice about ‘no further action’ because:


 a) I don’t know the full story and haven’t seen the video – and the last thing you would want to do online, personally and professionally, is to attract any further attention to a distorted account; and


 b) I am way out of date on the law of defamation (and never much did much work in that area in that specialist area in the first place.)


Having said which I will hazard a guess which may be completely erroneous. To publish a distorted account on line like this can most certainly be defamatory. But I understand new law in 2013 ( which I have not studied in any detail at all) introduced a ‘serious harm’ ‘barrier’ i.e in addition to establishing defamation as under the old law the plaintiff in some circumstances might have to prove that such defamation constitutes ‘serious harm’ to the defamed.


This could be totally wrong, but other patients be warned: very serious and expensive legal proceedings can be commenced on the basis of defamatory publication online, and whether to proceed or not can sometimes depend on a very fine balancing of considerations. It maybe that shallowthought’s former patient escaped by a mere ‘whisker’ of legal assessment.


Any other patient deciding to behave like this might well not be so lucky. And it does ‘serious harm’ to the aims of responsible patients who want recordings for very good and perfectly legal purposes for professionals to encounter behaviour like this.


Best wishes too shallowthought9, and thank you for your contribution.


Edited by nolegion
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