Patients will be able to stop their NHS records being uploaded electronically under Government plans announced today.
Health Minister Lord Warner announced the shift in position as he accepted the recommendations of a taskforce set up to assess the future of electronic NHS patient records.
He set out plans for patients to be able to view their records and amend details as well as how they will be able to consent to information being shared with professionals across the NHS in England.
The records system is part of the Government's 10-year, multi-billion pound upgrade of NHS IT.
Initially, patient records will contain data on medication, allergies and adverse drug reactions and will be known as Summary Care Records.
How they will be extended to include more sensitive information - such as if a patient has HIV or a mental health problem - is still being negotiated.
Today's announcement means patients will be allowed to veto their records being shared nationally - a shift on the Government's original position.
How the veto can be achieved has not yet been decided.
Lord Warner said that, for all people, "if they don't want to have information uploaded, they can stop it before it is uploaded".
Under the taskforce proposals, a public information programme would inform patients they have a set period of time to view their record.
They will either be able to view it on the website HealthSpace - which will act as a secure internet "window" onto their record - or can ask their GP for a printed copy.
Patients will be invited to correct or amend their record and offer explicit consent for the information to be shared with medical professionals caring for them.
Those who do not wish their record to be shared electronically at all will be able to opt out, meaning it will remain in their GP surgery.
After a set period of time - possibly around two months - it would be assumed that patients who have not viewed their record have given implied consent for it to be shared.
As at present, patients who demonstrate they are suffering mental distress through having their record held electronically, even in the GP surgery, will have the right to ask for it to be removed.
The taskforce recommendations on consent go some way to alleviating fears expressed by doctors' and patient bodies about patient confidentiality.
There are worries that a compulsory electronic records system could damage the GP/patient relationship, with patients not wanting to give information in case it is shared.
Concerns have also been expressed about how secure the entire electronic system is and whether implied consent would lead to some patients having information shared that they regard as confidential.