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NHS England drop 'artificial deadline' for care.data relaunch

NHS England has scrapped the deadline for the relaunch of its flagship patient record sharing scheme, care.data, saying it will only be rolled out when they are sure ‘the process is right’.

The scheme was delayed for six months in February to allow NHS England to ‘build understanding’ of the scheme’s benefits.

But the latest care.data update from NHS England’s national director for patients and information, Tim Kelsey, reveals that NHS England will further extend the deadline if work to address GP and public concerns has not been achieved.

An earlier version of the update, previously reported by Pulse, explained that the scheme would be trialled across 100 to 500 practices in the autumn, but the final version confirms the full rollout may be postponed.

Tim Kelsey writes: ‘We do not subscribe to artificial deadlines here – we will roll it out nationally only when we are sure the process is right.’

Improvements to the care.data scheme include giving a statutory footing to patient’s right to opt out as well as amendments to the Care Bill – currently passing through parliament - that guarantee ‘robust independent scrutiny’ and a requirement that the data only be shared where it benefits patients’ health or care.

The update also suggests there will be tighter restrictions on how and where data can be handled, after Health and Social Care Information Centre chair Kingsley Manning told the Commons health committee they were reviewing whether data should only be usable on HSCIC premises or at trusted safe havens.

The update states: ‘The Government has already acted to put before Parliament legislative proposals that mean all uses of the data will be subject to robust independent scrutiny and that no uses will be permitted that are not for the benefit of patients.’

‘An organisation that wanted to handle the data on its own premises would need to demonstrate it could safely do so, or risk being barred from doing so.’

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