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GPs unable to object to patient data being shared, warns GPC

Practices are ‘strongly advised’ not to opt out all their patients from NHS England’s data extraction programme as they will be in breach of the Health and Social Care Act, says the GPC.

As part of its September newsletter, the GPC said it had been contacted by practices and LMCs with concerns over the Government’s care.data programme, in which patient identifiable data from GP records will be extracted and shared with commissioners, researchers and private companies in identifiable and de-identified forms.

Earlier this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced patients would be given the right to opt out of having their data extracted.

But last week Pulse reported that Northumberland LMC was considering boycotting the scheme, to give patients more time to make an informed decision about the extracts, and their right to opt out.

The GPC also received enquiries from practices considering putting opt out codes for all their patients. But the GPC said they ‘strongly advised’ practices against doing this, as they would be  breaking the law.

The GPC newsletter said: ‘We have received concerns from practices and LMCs about the level of patient awareness, and whether an eight week period of activity undertaken by the practice will be sufficient in informing all patients of the extract. Some practices have suggested applying the objection code to all of their patients’ records and removing the code once patients have provided explicit consent.

‘We would strongly advise practices against doing this because the Health and Social Care Act creates a statutory obligation for GP practices to disclose the data to the Health and Social Care Information Centre. In addition, it is a patient’s right to object, not that of the practice. As the law creates a legal obligation to disclose data, consent is not required.

‘GP practices must meet their legal obligations under the Health and Social Care Act, as well as their obligations under the Data Protection Act (DPA) to undertake fair processing.’

Readers' comments (22)

  • I am still amazed that the fact that the state will essentially have copies of our personal medical records has not received more coverage in the media.

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  • 12.01 Agreed, can't work out why The Daily Mail haven't taken up this cause.

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  • the daily mail won`t, but some of the others should

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  • why is the bma not trying to do something about this?

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  • if every practice boycotts would they take everyone to court? I doubt it ,if we all say no unanimously on behalf of patients who largely have zilch idea this is going on, (and will not have any idea as dispersing the message has been left to practices who NHS England knows are stretched to already)
    The reason this is not in the press is that as far as the NHS is concerned at the moment is THE PRESS = JEREMY HUNT = RUPERT MURDOCH.
    That is why he was given the job of dismantling the NHS by David Cameron

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  • Since the government are clearly pressing ahead with this, I see no reason for them not to go the whole hog and connect health records with the Government Gateway system. It would then be possible to adjust a patients tax liability for sickness and integrate their benefit claims with the medical record rather than the DWP keep sending these expensive forms. ATOS need not bother to ask for reports and occupational health medicals can be extracted directly from the notes. MARAC reports can be fully integrated into the police and social service computing systems and life insurance quotes will become instantly available without having to ask meerkats. I hope the public are ready for this brave new world because its happening right now.

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  • I rescind my permission if confidential info is collected by Atos then used against me in any claim for disability benefits

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  • I see the logical train of thought of anonymous however you have understand the culture within some Social Services it really is a post code lottery and many do not act in an honourable and moral way. Indeed many parents of those with severe and complex needs are left amazed at the defamatory comments and misrepresentation within Assessments and experience social workers manipulating information to achieve budget targets Some information in the wrong hands can be to the detriment of many especially those with mental health issues cynical i know but have years of experience of unethical working practices by SS

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  • Tessa Bowater

    Hear hear Anon 26/9 at 9.11pm and yes Anon 26/9 at 10.05pm, it's happening and it's scary!
    I have many years experience in SS and sadly can't disagree with you Anon 27/9 at 0.28am

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  • Why is it so wrong that the government should be able to access and analyse non-identifiable patient data to allow a better understanding and recording of current illness and future trends in disease progression?

    I'm not sure why HCPs are in such uproar about it... can anyone please explain in a sensible and non-inflammatory/politically biased way why this is a problem?

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