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BMA calls for delay to controversial Government patient data programme

BMA calls for delay to controversial Government patient data programme

The BMA has called for a delay to the Government’s new patient data-sharing programme amid concerns around the timescale involved in patients opting out.

Patients have until 23 June to opt out of the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) programme, but the BMA says it feels this timeline is ‘too short’ and that NHS Digital has not ‘transparently and actively engaged the public in increasing awareness’.

It added that ‘rushing’ the programme out would undermine public confidence.

Pulse revealed last month that privacy campaigners fear the new automatic extractions of data will be ‘far bigger’ and ‘more intrusive’ than the scrapped project.

Last week, the BMA and RCGP wrote to NHS Digital urging for improved communication with the public about the data extraction programme.

BMA GP committee executive team member and IT lead Dr Farah Jameel said communication from NHS Digital to the public has been ‘completely inadequate’, adding it has caused ‘confusion for patients and GPs alike’.

She said: ‘Family doctors have a duty to their patients, and have their best interest at heart – so are understandably hesitant to comply with something that patients may know nothing about and that they themselves do not fully understand, even if this is a legal requirement.’

Dr Jameel said that with less than four weeks until the extraction date, ‘it’s clear that the timeline needs a hard reset’, adding this should only happen when the public are able to make a ‘fully informed decision’ about what happens with their data and how to opt-out if that is what they want to do.. 

She said ‘unclear messaging’ and a ‘failure’ to develop a far-reaching public engagement plan has resulted in a ‘completely unrealistic’ expectation that GPs are left to communicate the complex changes to patients and warned rushing it through could risk people losing confidence in GPs.

This comes as doctors, including GPs, today threatened a legal challenge against the Government unless it reverses its ‘unlawful’ plan to carry out the ‘largest seizure of GP data in NHS history’

Earlier this week, the RCGP warned that the job of informing the public about the impending mass extraction of patient data ‘must not be left to busy GPs’ while they are in the midst of ‘extreme workload pressure’ and focusing on the Covid pandemic.

GPs in some parts of England, including East London, have also been urged not to allow the NHS Digital data extraction, even though this is technically against the law.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Douglas Callow 4 June, 2021 3:11 pm

good news
This administration appears to be conflicted around openness and transparency expecting it of everyone else but not itself
Power and influence seeded to corporations and fatcats is an accusation we can all do without at a time when public trust has bene eroded Better late than never

Simon Taylor 4 June, 2021 5:05 pm

Sit back and wait for the inevitable massive data leak in a few years, followed by “lessons will be lea.. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH”.

Personally I’ve opted out.

Patrufini Duffy 4 June, 2021 5:24 pm

They use you to collect data like miners at the dirty coal face.
SNOWMED coding will feed into insurance companies and procurement. Dirty profiteering at your expense.

neo 99 4 June, 2021 10:10 pm

Rather rich coming from the BMA which has been complicit in developing GPDPR which honestly should never have got off the ground. The extraction is intrusive and goes against the principles of data protection and GDPR. The ICO has been rather quite on this as the 2012 health and social care act allows the Secretary of state to ride roughshod over data protection laws.The level of data extraction should also mean that GP practices should refused to carry responsibility as coldecott guardians given the risk of misuse this data extraction poses. Currently it is being advertised as a benign anomnymised non-monetising extraction for research and planning purposes with NHS digital going on record on their website staing there has been a lot of “misinformation” about this. But the extractions are open to commercial enterprises too and the data is pseudoanomymised. The data clearly has the potential to be misused. Data extraction of this magnitude (ie very valuable individual cradle to grave data very few health systems have) should require explicit consent.

terry sullivan 5 June, 2021 8:56 pm

my wife and i have opted out

note this is happening whilst many gps are not seeing pts f2f–deliberate policy i expect