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Practice opts all patients out of despite delay to roll-out

A GP practice has decided to opt all of its patients out of NHS England’s flagship data sharing scheme despite moves by the body to ‘build understanding’ of the scheme’s benefits.

The Consulting Rooms practice, in Oxhey, Hertfordshire, has posted on its website that it will opt all patients out unless they choose otherwise as this ‘gives our patients more of a decision when it comes to the sharing of data’.

GPs at the practice said this was a result of a lack of trust in NHS managers to protect patients’ privacy, despite the roll-out of the scheme being delayed by six months in February to allow NHS England to work with patients and professional groups – including the BMA, RCGP and Healthwatch – to develop ‘additional practical steps to promote awareness with patients’.

NHS England recently scrapped the six-month deadline for the relaunch saying it will only be rolled out when they are sure ‘the process is right’.

But GPs at the Hertfordshire surgery told Pulse managers should scrap the scheme altogether.

The practice’s website states: ‘As a practice we have opt[ed]-out all of our patients as standard, and ask that if you are happy for your data to be shared, that you opt back in, we feel that this will give our patients more of a decision when it comes to the sharing of data.’

Dr Philip Bolitho-Jones, a partner at The Consulting Rooms surgery, told Pulse: ‘They shouldn’t bring it in at all I don’t think, but they should let patients opt in rather than having to opt out [if it goes ahead].’

He added: ‘We don’t trust the politicians; they’ve got no idea what they’re doing. They’ve already leaked before the system was even set up they were leaking data left right and centre. They couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery.’

‘I wouldn’t trust them with my notes; I wouldn’t trust them with any of our patients’ notes. They really are idiots.’

This follows other GPs – including Dr Gordon Gancz from Oxford – who took the action over concerns that patients weren’t adequately informed, a view affirmed when it was revealed that NHS England’s national leafleting campaign reached just one third of households.

Dr Gancz was sent a warning from his area team that he would be in breach of contract if he proceeded with the mass opt out, but the scheme was postponed in February so extractions have yet to begin.