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Independents' Day

Pulse weekly: Are your patients’ records safe with

Pulse editor Steve Nowottny analyses the biggest stories affecting GPs this week…

Must-read articles

Are your patients’ records safe with

It may be a hard-to-understand NHS IT project with the clunkiest of names, but with millions of patients sent information about this week, the controversial records sharing project has finally hit the front pages.

Pulse revealed last Friday that the group of independent experts which will oversee has approved 31 releases of identifiable patient data since April – a figure somewhat at odds with official assurances that identifiable data will only be shared in ‘exceptional’ circumstances. While many argue the sharing of data will be a boon for medical research, there is mounting concern in some quarters about the consent model and potential confidentiality implications, with one MP today tabling a Parliamentary motion calling for a halt to the project. Read our CPD module explaining how the scheme works and one GP’s explanation of why he is opting all of his patients out, then let us know what you think in the comments or by email. is one of a whole range of topics covered in our latest poll of GPs – take the short survey here and we’ll enter you into a draw to win a new Samsung Smart HD TV.

Quote Of The Week


‘I have absolutely no faith in assertions by Government that patient data will be coded in such a way as to guarantee anonymity’

Roger Godsiff, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green tables a motion to halt



Other big news this week includesCCGs queuing up to request QOF suspensions, Northern Irish GPs closing in on a contract deal, and a potentially significant study linking a walk-in centre with a 26% reduction in daytime A&E visits.

This year’s Pulse Live is shaping up to be another fantastic event, including a live interview with the new chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field. It takes place in London on 29 and 30 April – to book your free place please click here.

And finally, the question of whether GPs have a duty to support patients in appealing benefits decisions prompted much debate last year (you can read my take on it inour September editorial.) This week two GPs argue it out in our opinion section. Dr Raymond Orr argues thatsupporting the welfare process is part of the GP role, while Dr Peter Swinyardurges GPs to learn when to say no.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • One problem seems to me to be critical.

    Opting out relies on the use of a selection of codes being entered into the individual patient record in the GP system.

    This implies that NHS England already has access to all information on GP systems but has not (we are told) yet uploaded it.

    Given the demonstrated incompetence of nearly all branches of the NHS in implementing IT systems what confidence can we have that HSCIC will have programed correctly to identify the relevant codes and exclude these records from the upload.

    Alternatively will they still be uploaded but "protected" from release?

    Can we be confident that there will not be coding errors at practice level?

    Quite a few reservations!

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