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Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 hospital consultants and 47 general practice patients, asking for their opinions about a proposed policy of partial access to records in one general practice. Eleven consultants were opposed to the policy, 10 were in favour and three were classified as ambivalent. Arguments against access were couched largely in terms of consultants' own interests whereas arguments in favour of access were couched in terms of patients' interests. Although 81% of patients interviewed said that they should in principle be allowed to see their own records, only 51% wanted access to their own records. Fears expressed by consultants on patients' behalf are not necessarily well founded.