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HSCIC promises not to count opt outs at GP practice level

Individual GP practices will not be held to account for the number of patients choosing to opt out of the register, NHS England has said.

Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) programme director Eve Roodhouse said opt outs would be counted nationally, but not by individual practice and not in an attempt to ‘beat GPs over the head’.

The flagship data extraction scheme will see information from GP patient records automatically extracted and linked with hospital data for uses other than direct patient care, such as commissioning.

However the scheme has been delayed for more than a year amid concerns that patients were ill-informed of privacy consequences after a botched initial information campaign reached only a third of households and the information was unclear.

The scheme ran into controversy one year ago when Pulse revealed that a GP was hit with a contract notice over his plan to opt all patients out of because of privacy concerns.

But speaking at a Westminster Health Forum sessions on electronic health records earlier this month, Ms Roodhouse moved to reassure GPs that HSCIC would not count the number of opt outs at individual GP practice level.

She said: ‘Nationally, the health and care system is interested to know how many people opt out and so there is the intent to collect that information at the Health and Social Care Information Centre.’

‘We can have an aggregate count from GP practices about how many patients have objected… because it is something that is of interest to us all. But not for the purposes of going and beating people over the head and saying “why haven’t you got more of your patients [to sign up]”.