The proposed sharing of patient data from GP practices in England will continue this year despite being delayed due to privacy concerns.
The UK government had planned to allow data sharing from July 1, but it has now been pushed back due to concerns.
Delayed until September
Health Minister Lord Bethell said the rollout of the program would be postponed to September 1 to ensure it is “as effective as possible”.
The move comes following calls to halt data sharing to allow for public consultation and an information campaign to alleviate fears from members of the public and healthcare professionals.
Speaking in Parliament, Lord Bethell told his peers: “Data saves lives. We saw this during the pandemic and it is one of the lessons of the vaccine deployment. ”
Lord Bethell said the GP data program “will strengthen the system and save lives”, but added that the government was taking a little longer to ensure it is effective, which means the program will now be implemented later this year in September.
He added: “This is why we are taking some time to make sure it is as effective as possible, so the implementation date will now be September 1.
“We will use this time to talk to patients, doctors and others to strengthen the plan, create a reliable research environment and ensure safe access to data.”
What data will be collected?
The program will collect information on patients’ treatments, referrals and appointments over the past 10 years, as well as other data from medical records kept in GP systems.
The data collected is encoded by NHS Digital to protect the identity of patients.
The NHS said the project aimed to help plan and deliver its services more effectively and to “ensure that the care and treatment provided is safe and effective”.
However, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) expressed concern that the program was being implemented too quickly, without sufficient consultation with patients, and requested a postponement.
According to the previous schedule, the BMA said patients only had until June 23 to refuse to have their encoded health data transmitted to NHS Digital.
Daily “snippets” of coded data from practice systems to NHS Digital would then have started from 1 July.
How to unsubscribe
Patients who do not wish their data to be shared outside their GP practice can register to unsubscribe.
NHS Digital will not collect any data on patients who have already registered an opt-out, but if this changes, patients will be notified.
Those who wish to opt out of data sharing can do so by filling out a form on the NHS digital website.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-10 06:00:00