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Rebel GP told contract notice over care.data opt-outs was a 'misunderstanding'

Exclusive A GP threatened with termination of his contract by area team managers after deciding to opt all his patients out of the care.data scheme has been told he won’t face punitive action and that the whole episode was a ‘misunderstanding’.

Oxford GP Dr Gordon Gancz told Pulse managers have backtracked on a ‘notice of remediation’ sent last month requiring him to remove notices on his practice website about his plan to opt all his patients out of the scheme and remove all opt-out codes he had applied to records.

Officials from Thames Valley Area Team told Dr Gancz that the information on his website could remain and that they had not decided yet what - if any punishment - he would face if he opted his patients out.

He was told that they didn’t believe ‘punitive action’ was justified, and that they conceded the opt out system appeared ‘a bit like Big Brother’.

The softening stance from area team managers comes as NHS England announced yesterday that it would be postponing extractions for six months.

The move came after recent statements were issued by the RCGP and BMA outlining their concerns over the scheme.

Pulse revealed in November that Dr Gancz was planning to notify his patients that he would be opting them out of the care.data extraction scheme, and earlier this month that he had been issued with a contract notice and summoned to a meeting with the area team to discuss the ‘remediation needed’ to remedy the breach.

Dr Gancz has since featured in the national media, and been interviewed by the BBC and ITV.

But at the meeting with Thames Valley Area Team last week Dr Gancz said that officials said there was ‘a misunderstanding about the email’ sent to him and that he was raising ‘serious concerns on clear principles’.

Dr Gancz told Pulse: ‘I said: “I think the email was extremely ill judged” and he said “I  think there was a misunderstanding about the email.”’

He added: ‘I said to him: “Let me get this quite clear, [if I] press the button tomorrow to opt out all my patients until you tell me otherwise. Excluding those who’ve already told me otherwise, what is going to happen?”

‘He said: “I think it is quite fair to say that we have not decided. We do not wish to make examples of anybody, if there are real genuine concerns, which clearly you have, we feel they should be addressed appropriately, and not through punitive action.”’

Dr Gancz added that area team managers said that NHS England was looking at the opt out process as it was ‘a bit like Big Brother’.

Care.data will see data from patient records extracted from all GP practices, linked to secondary care data and made accessible to researchers and private companies.

Supporters of the scheme have argued it will have significant benefits for both commissioning services and medical research, and NHS IT chiefs insist patients’ data will usually only be shared in anonymised or ‘pseudonymised’ form, with any releases of identifiable data subject to strict privacy safeguards and a public interest test.

But a Pulse survey of nearly 400 GPs showed that over 40% intend to opt themselves out of the scheme over a lack of confidence in how data will be shared.

Thames Valley Area Team was approached for comment, but a spokesperson said that they did not comment on private meetings

 

 

 

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Readers' comments (22)

  • "Misunderstanding" in the way that battered spouses turn up in A+E with black eyes.

    This is bullying and nothing less.

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  • If only there was unity in our profession.

    If every GP simply opted out all their practice lists until they chose to opt in, what could NHS England or anyone else do? Absolutely nothing, as they could not terminate the contract of every practice, nor refer us all to the GMC.

    United as a profession we can not be bullied around, nor could they get away with imposing ill thought out and punitive policies.

    Our negotiators can only help us if the Turkey's among us stop voting for Christmas.

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  • Hang on a second! Lets not forget the poor patient here!! If I was a patient at this GP's practice i'd be mightly peed off that he was doing exactly the same as NHS England and arbitrarily making a decision about my records without even consulting me! You need your heads banging together! Get off your moral high horse and just speak to the patients properly! Explain things in clear and simple terms, give them valid and understandable reasons and allow them enough time to make their own mind up! Its not rocket science!

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  • @11:23
    stop GP bashing.
    please bother to read what he actually wrote on his website. It tells patients everything they need to know. that doctor is a hero for many of his patients.

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  • 11.23
    Dr Gancz has notified his patients that they can choose to opt-in by notifying the surgery. He has not made any decision without the patients knowledge & consent.

    If only all GP's were as considerate of the importance of their patient's confidentiality.....

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  • dear anonymous 23 i understand your point but this dr took an honourable emergency decision in the face of clear secretive wrong doing by nhse..to protect his patients interests until such time they can give proper informed consent rather than nhse's secretive method to try introduce with no consent..even now their plan is to introduce without positive optin informed consent but only by active opt..out..still that is inadequate consent...of course gps shouldiscuss with patients so they can make up their own minds when time allows..now possible as nhse has been forced by outcry to delay....unfotunately nhse has supplied no extra staff or time for such a huge task!..surprise that!
    even if there might be something of value in care.data..the point is nhse implementation has been disastrous and probably in violation of data protection law.

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  • Sue them for harrassment and stress and defamation. Its only when they have to cough up huge amounts for foolish actions will they stop doing them.

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  • Vinci Ho

    There is a simple principle to apply here( particularly to those who still have a 'soft' spot on this matter):
    When an hierarchy and its associated authorities have repeatedly done things to betray people's trust and faith , no matter how righteous its next policy sounds like , people will always find reason(s) to repudiate......

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  • anon 10.53 19th feb...you can find out who was involved by reading who were on the Board of Directors.Some of them carry out such noble work on so many other committees etc . it makes you wonder where they find the time? or didn't in this case.Their web site though doesn't explain what the appointments system was/is......the group needs disbanding before they do any other damage

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  • And those GPs who are opting their patients out automatically is not quite the same as the NHS introducing an opt-out system - any patient who objects to the GP's action can opt-in and undo what the GP has done by allowing previously withheld information to upload - on the other hand, if you do not opt-out in time, you cannot remove information already uploaded to the Government's database, and undo what the NHS has done.

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