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Care.data - every little helps

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My local Tesco store has finally gotten around to introducing scan and shop.  If you’re not familiar with this shopping experience, you pick up a barcode scanner when you enter the store and attach it to your trolley so you can scan items you buy as you walk around and put them straight into your own bags as you shop.  When you’ve finished you simply pay at a dedicated checkout.  It’s simple and time saving, even if you do get stopped for a random bag check.

This shopping concept isn’t original.  In fact it’s been around for twenty years in other supermarkets but apparently it has never really caught on.  Now the fact it’s taken off like a storm in my local Tesco means either there are more gadget-savvy shoppers using the store (unlikely where I live) or Tesco has learnt from the mistakes made by previous supermarket chains and made it easier to use and have promoted it in such a way that ordinary customers feel confident to use it.

Which brings me onto the subject of care.data and the news this week that GPs are being urged to ‘proactively’ support the NHS data-sharing publicity campaign.

This is all in preparation for the commencement of GP data being extracted from Spring 2014 onwards.  The latest information from NHS England is pretty explicit in that GP practices cannot opt out of data extraction for care.data and must continue to raise awareness with their patients about the ways in which patient information is used and shared beyond the practice.  A national leaflet drop is going to happen throughout January so prepare for more telephone enquires from patients with questions about this new development.  Thankfully NHS England has set up a dedicated help line for patients and my receptionists will be instructed to refer all enquires there.  We are busy enough, thank you, without having to deal with unpaid extra work.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think care.data is a good idea, but if it’s not promoted positively and patients given clear information so they can make an informed decision about opting in or out it will begin to undermine the relationship we have with our patients.  The leaflet drop will go some way to do this but remember this is only happening because GPs and patients complained so much last year about how badly care.data was being publicised.

So, maybe NHS England needs to learn a few tricks from Tesco about how to promote a good idea.

After all, every little helps.

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.

Readers' comments (8)

  • How is sensitive data treated?

    I understand that it is not extracted if certain codes have been used to record the data.. If this has been recorded as freetext inside a code which is extracted, is the freetext extracted???

    Is any freetext extracted OR is it just codes??

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  • Neil Bhatia

    Fairly certain free text is NOT extracted

    Neil
    care-data.info

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  • However whilst a diagnosis of HIV will not be uploaded a record of all the retroviral drugs used will be uploaded. It is not a particularly strong protection.

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  • Research is underway to design software to "read" free text in medical records (Sussex/BSMS)

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  • I will request that my practice adds both 9Nu0 (blocks any data from sharing with any authorised recipient) & 9Nu4 (blocks data from other sources, hospitals, SUS, HSCIC

    If my data has been blocked for extraction from GP system HOW does the code 9Nu4 transfer elsewhere to bloch sharing from SUS or hospital etc: Are these codes hels on the PDS??

    This is really confusing!!!!

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  • If you have the "blocked" 9Nu0 code then the extraction will still extract the 9Nu4 code. According to the specifications it is the only sort of code that is looked for (the other specific codes will be the "antidote" codes which reverse the dissent)

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  • Whilst the first data extractions will be anonymised, Geraint Lewis has made it plain these will actually be unfit for purpose, and they will later apply to take identifiable data, including historical, and eventually free text. As they seem to be setting up their own approval bodies and removing the independent ones, this will presumably be allowed.

    there is no way that GPs can reach all their patients unless they write to each one individually, which is cost prohibitive and they have no resources to do this.

    The leaflet is misleading and there is no opt out form attached.

    Basically it is hoped the majority of the public will be hoodwinked or left completely unaware.

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  • You are absolutely right. NHS' leaflet is just not transparent at all. They should definitely learn a thing or two from Tesco. Their inconsistency makes you want to question whether Care.data was created because these people genuinely care about patients. Eh, I think not.

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