RED tape is "strangling" medical research in Scotland, claims a leading charity.

The British Heart Foundation , which funds around £100 million of medical research every year, called on the NHS to open up its data to scientists after finding that 79% of Scots would be happy for their doctors to give their medical information to researchers to help develop new treatments.

The charity said researchers were experiencing delays before they can get permission to access data and the overly complicated system could be slowing potentially life-saving discoveries.

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It has called for new legal guidance for researchers and a simplified system to allow academics and scientists access to patient data.

Professor Peter Weissberg, BHF medical director, said: "Our NHS records are a source of potentially life-saving information and give us a unique opportunity to advance the prevention and treatment of heart disease."

He said while data protection is important, researchers say "unnecessary and inconsistently applied red tape" slows them down by months or even years.