This is a really important issue, which goes to the very heart of the doctor-patient relationship.
If patients felt that their data was leaking out, and I had not warned them about it, then that would destroy my relationship with them.
In medicine, patients should come to us feeling safe and secure, not that there’s a small chance that someone might identify them and what is wrong with them.
The GMC is very clear on this, so I don’t know how we got into this horrible situation. So at the moment, all I can do is use whatever resources I’ve got to share the potential benefits and risks with my patients.
Luckily, we can share information over the internet with patients and this is what I have done.
I have placed detailed information on our website about the care.data scheme and linked to various information sources including our practice’s understanding, not just the official information provided by NHS England.
I have also put together a really simple online opt-out form and publicised it on my website and Twitter, or patients can print it out and hand it into my practice, so they do not need to phone or make an appointment. I have already had 372 patients opt-out using this tool in one week.
One patient on Twitter was one I did not even know was following me. They used this tool and minutes after my tweet was sent, they opted out and confirmed this by checking their records online themselves. It was as simple as that.
Dr Amir Hannan is a GP in Manchester