Most psychiatrists have been willing, for some 30 years, to supply information to a central register held in a Government department. This confidence has not been abused. It may not be generally known that even medical research workers do not have access to names or other identifying information. They must submit lists of names which they have already acquired, with appropriate permission, in some other way. If their bona fides, which is strictly examined, is considered by the medical officer responsible for confidentiality to be beyond reproach, they are issued with the name of the hospital where the patient was admitted. They must then apply to that hospital for any further information they require. The decision as to whether to release the information lies in the hands of the local medical committee or individual consultant, according to local practice. The DHSS has frequently reaffirmed that this procedure has always been followed and that it will always be adhered to.
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