GPs' care.data concerns 'could resurface', warns data guardian
GP and public concerns over NHS England’s ill-fated care.data record sharing programme could resurface when it relaunches next year unless there is an overhaul of its communications with GPs, the independent oversight lead has warned.
National data guardian Dame Fiona Caldicott told the House of Commons science and technology committee yesterday that NHS England had ‘a lot of work to do’ to win back GP support for the scheme after the initial, botched launch.
She said the original rollout had placed a burden on GPs to undertake politically sensitive work which ‘they didn’t feel they had the support and guidance on how to do it’.
In February 2014, care.data - NHS England’s flagship IT project to extract GP records to look at overall population health trends - was shelved amid massive protests with just days until its national launch due to fears that patients were not informed about how it will be used.
Since then the scheme has focussed on improving patient and GP communications and addressing security concerns.
However, pilots across four ‘pathfinder’ regions, due to start this September, were also delayed.
Before the relaunch, Dame Fiona will first have to sign off the communications at the start of 2016.
Dame Fiona told the MPs: ’[Care.data] was put on hold because there was loud, and extensive protest, not least from the GPs.
‘An explanation of the benefits was not clear enough, and in the end the clamour around those problems, was in order when it was decided by NHS England that there had to be a pause.’
She added: ‘It is a matter of opinion, but I think the criticism around that programme is still of an order where, if it emerges in its current shape, it may again run into similar criticisms. I don’t know that, but I think it is a bit of a risk.
’I would hate to speak for all clinicians… but I do think there would be quite a lot of work to get the professions, generally, on board, particularly with GPs who I think at the moment feel they were being asked to do something new, and politically sensitive, and they didn’t feel they had the support and guidance on how to do it.’