Copying referral letters to patients: prepare for change

Patient Educ Couns. 2004 Aug;54(2):159-61. doi: 10.1016/S0738-3991(03)00203-9.


The National Health Service (NHS) Plan for England has directed that from April 2004 clinicians will offer patients the opportunity to receive copies of letters that are written about them. Patients like to have more information and patients who have received copies of letters have found them useful. It is hoped that copying letters will improve relationships between doctors and patients, encourage patients to be better informed, and improve the quality of information provided to patients. Relatively little empirical research has been performed in this area but what exists is generally supportive. Attention will need to be paid to issues of confidentiality, the language and content of letters, and individuals who may have difficulty obtaining information from letters. This initiative is one of many that the NHS has introduced to enhance openness, honesty and the quality of information provided to patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication
  • Confidentiality
  • Copying Processes* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Copying Processes* / standards
  • Correspondence as Topic*
  • England
  • Health Planning / organization & administration
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Medical Records* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Medical Records* / standards
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Organizational Policy
  • Patient Access to Records* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Access to Records* / standards
  • Patient Education as Topic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Semantics
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*