National Health Service's (NHS) latest practice of sending hundreds of thousands of confidential letters about patients to India, to be typed up by poorly-paid workers have forced British MP's to express their concern.
British parliamentarians have warned that complicated medical terms may be mis-translated by Indian workers, leading to 'tragic consequences'.
Advertisement"There is a safety issue. There's the potential for something to go tragically wrong. If someone gives the wrong advice, and this is not picked up, then a patient could be misdiagnosed, or seen less urgently than they should be," the Daily Mail quoted Labour MP John Spellar, as saying.
Figures obtained by Spellar under the Freedom of Information Act show that in 2011/12, West Middlesex University Hospital trust in West London, sent 234,000 letters to India.
Last year, at least 650,000 letters containing sensitive medical information are known to have been sent to India by a total of eight NHS trusts, but many others are likely to be doing the same.
Normally, after seeing a patient, a doctor dictates a referral letter to a consultant into a tape recorder, which is far quicker than typing it out, which is then given to the doctor's medical secretary who types it up and sends it, saving the doctor time.
However, recently hospitals in the UK have begun setting up schemes with private firms whereby the recordings are sent to India to be typed up and returned a few weeks later.
Other NHS trusts said they routinely dispatch letters to India were: Kingston Hospital in south-west London; Epsom and St Helier University in south London and Surrey; the Whittington Hospital in north London; the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in north London, the paper said.