This site is intended for health professionals only

Independent oversight body for to be scrapped

The Independent Advisory Group (IAG), which has been overseeing the project, is set to be scrapped at the end of June, in what GP campaigners describe as a ‘ludicrous’ decision.

The IAG, which includes members of the public and GP representatives, currently has a dual role of overseeing the collection of data through the GP Extraction Service, and recommending to the Health and Social Care Information Centre where this information should be disseminated.

However, from July this role will be split in two with the Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI) to oversee data collections and extractions and a new group, to be called the Data Dissemination Advisory Group (DDAG), to review what data should be given out by HSCIC to parties requesting information.

HSCIC said the change would see it move ‘towards a more unified and simple structure’ which would be ‘underpinned by the cornerstones of independence, clinical oversight, public scrutiny and transparency’.

However, a GP campaigner for patient data safety said splitting the oversight role into two groups was ‘ludicrous’ and warned that continued independent scrutiny would be vital as the roll out of the Government’s flagship patient record sharing scheme progressed.

Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Yateley, Hampshire, said: ‘They are splitting data collection and data dissemination into two groups, which seems a ludicrous situation to me. You need to know where data is going before you extract it.

‘We need independent GPs and other healthcare professionals to scrutinise these plans and rein in HSCIC and NHS England’s megalomaniacal flight of ideas. To date, they have been effective at applying common sense principles of data access, privacy and proportion to the plans.

‘The two groups, Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI) and the Data Dissemination Advisory Group (DDAG), will no doubt be filled by those who cannot be said to be impartial. NHS England and the HSCIC desperately want that – once bitten twice shy.’

A spokesperson for HSCIC said: ‘The IAG has played a vital role in providing expert scrutiny to general practice data extractions and it is important that its acquired knowledge is reflected in the activities of the SCCI and the DDAG.

‘The HSCIC would like to thank the committee for its hard work to date and the valuable role it will continue to play in the coming transitional months.’

The first pilots are due to begin before May but the tentative start – set to focus on more effective patient information rather than live extractions – comes over a year later than the intended launch of the scheme.