The health secretary has asked former RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard to advise the Government on the successful rollout of its GP data project.
Yesterday, it was announced that the controversial planned mass extraction of patient data from GP records will be delayed from July to September and patients given longer to opt-out of the extraction.
In a blog published by the HSJ today, interim NHS Digital chief executive Simon Bolton revealed that health secretary Matt Hancock has recruited Professor Stokes-Lampard – now chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – onto the project.
She has been asked to ‘advise [Mr Hancock] on how we can ensure this programme rolls out successfully’, Mr Bolton said.
The health secretary has also asked national statistician Sir Ian Diamond to advise on following ‘best practice in preserving privacy’, drawing on Office for National Statistics (ONS) experience of making data ‘available for research in a privacy-preserving way’, he added.
Mr Bolton added that the delayed patient data sharing plan ‘will deliver better health and care outcomes for people across the country’ and NHS Digital is ‘absolutely determined to take people with us on this crucial mission’.
He said: ‘Data saves lives. There is no clearer demonstration of this than our response to the pandemic which has been fuelled by data.’
NHS Digital has been using data ‘for many years’ to ‘better understand and develop cures for all types of serious illnesses and plan the most effective services for the NHS’ but the current system is ‘over 10 years old and outdated’, he added.
The General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR), which will replace the GP Extraction Service (GPES), had been due to launch on 1 July.
But Pulse revealed last month that privacy campaigners fear the new automatic extractions of data will be ‘far bigger’ and ‘more intrusive’ than the scrapped care.data project.
The BMA last week called for a delay to the launch of the programme, on which it has been advising the Government. The RCGP, which has also advised the Government, had also raised concerns about patients being insufficiently informed of the programme.