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GPs go forth

Rebel GP told contract notice over opt-outs was a 'misunderstanding'

Exclusive A GP threatened with termination of his contract by area team managers after deciding to opt all his patients out of the scheme has been told he won’t face punitive action and that the whole episode was a ‘misunderstanding’.

Oxford GP Dr Gordon Gancz told Pulse managers have backtracked on a ‘notice of remediation’ sent last month requiring him to remove notices on his practice website about his plan to opt all his patients out of the scheme and remove all opt-out codes he had applied to records.

Officials from Thames Valley Area Team told Dr Gancz that the information on his website could remain and that they had not decided yet what - if any punishment - he would face if he opted his patients out.

He was told that they didn’t believe ‘punitive action’ was justified, and that they conceded the opt out system appeared ‘a bit like Big Brother’.

The softening stance from area team managers comes as NHS England announced yesterday that it would be postponing extractions for six months.

The move came after recent statements were issued by the RCGP and BMA outlining their concerns over the scheme.

Pulse revealed in November that Dr Gancz was planning to notify his patients that he would be opting them out of the extraction scheme, and earlier this month that he had been issued with a contract notice and summoned to a meeting with the area team to discuss the ‘remediation needed’ to remedy the breach.

Dr Gancz has since featured in the national media, and been interviewed by the BBC and ITV.

But at the meeting with Thames Valley Area Team last week Dr Gancz said that officials said there was ‘a misunderstanding about the email’ sent to him and that he was raising ‘serious concerns on clear principles’.

Dr Gancz told Pulse: ‘I said: “I think the email was extremely ill judged” and he said “I  think there was a misunderstanding about the email.”’

He added: ‘I said to him: “Let me get this quite clear, [if I] press the button tomorrow to opt out all my patients until you tell me otherwise. Excluding those who’ve already told me otherwise, what is going to happen?”

‘He said: “I think it is quite fair to say that we have not decided. We do not wish to make examples of anybody, if there are real genuine concerns, which clearly you have, we feel they should be addressed appropriately, and not through punitive action.”’

Dr Gancz added that area team managers said that NHS England was looking at the opt out process as it was ‘a bit like Big Brother’. will see data from patient records extracted from all GP practices, linked to secondary care data and made accessible to researchers and private companies.

Supporters of the scheme have argued it will have significant benefits for both commissioning services and medical research, and NHS IT chiefs insist patients’ data will usually only be shared in anonymised or ‘pseudonymised’ form, with any releases of identifiable data subject to strict privacy safeguards and a public interest test.

But a Pulse survey of nearly 400 GPs showed that over 40% intend to opt themselves out of the scheme over a lack of confidence in how data will be shared.

Thames Valley Area Team was approached for comment, but a spokesperson said that they did not comment on private meetings




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Readers' comments (22)

  • Dr Gancz is to be thanked for bringing this issue to media attention. Not only care-data itself but the frankly dismissive way in which concerns have been handled.

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  • Vinci Ho


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  • If only a few more of us had this courage and integrity just think what we can achieve.

    It is time for the tide to turn against this persisting bullying from lofty heights.

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  • The normal management technique from NHSE has been " agree to what we want or we will impose something worse" and " we will punish you if you do not do exactly as we say".
    I think they need to understand that this bullying is no way to treat professionals and we are about to bite back in our own individual ways.
    They also need to understand that the Great British Public will not tolerate being bullied either.

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  • This is a kind of person that should be on Queen's new year honor's list. Not some celebs or multi million earning director of London based GP consortium.

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  • Russell Thorpe

    Dr Gancz, in my view the way you have been treated has been apaling you deserve nothing less than a full apology. You could have been the first doc reported to the GMC for protecting pt confidentiality.

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  • Well done, Dr Gancz!

    I expect NHSE will use the next 6 months re-jigging the process so that whichever way the patient turns they will be trapped into agreeing for their health records to be shared one way or another.

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  • Unfortunately are looking at 6 months of government spin to convince the great british public that will cure cancer, save our economy, solve the energy crisis and create world peace.

    There was something about it in the telegraph today!

    After the media have been put to work, opting out of will be akin to wife beating, drink driving and forgetting to flush after using a friends loo.

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  • NHS England should be ashamed of the way it has treated GP's who have enough on their plate as it is!

    There treatment of GP's has been a program of bullying yet they forget that without GP's, there would be no NHS.

    NHS England, you should hang your head in shame!

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  • there is spmething very sinister in the dysfunctional unaccountable 'organisation' named nhs england

    there should be foi request to find exactly who was responsible for the secretive undemocratic way they tried originally to impose without consultation(until their wrongdoing was exposed) the way -----to claim info linked tn nhs number is anonymised is simply a disgraceful lie.
    nhs england is clearly dangerously unfit for purpose.

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