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Three Months Delay in NHS Data Grab

The NHS has postponed plans to share their medical records from every GP patient in England with third parties. Jo Churchill, the minister for health and social care, said this week that the patient data sharing initiative would begin on September 1 instead of July 1.

Patients had until June 23 to opt out by providing a form to their doctors. Churchill stated that the extra time would be utilized to speak with doctors, patients, and charities to improve the plan. The British Medical Association (BMA) hailed the new development as a significant victory for patients, primary care physicians, and the BMA.

However, privacy advocates argue that more should be done to publicize the plans and provide people with opt-out options. Campaigners, the British Medical Association (BMA), and the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) are among those concerned that the proposals have not been widely publicized, leaving doctors to educate patients.

There are also concerns regarding sharing sensitive information from GP records, such as mental and sexual health, criminal history, smoking, drinking habits, and domestic abuse cases. The existing method for gathering patient data, according to NHS Digital, is more than ten years old and needs to be replaced. Previous NHS intentions to place GP records in a central database as part of the Project was shelved in 2016 due to public outrage.

Simon Bolton, a newly appointed CEO of NHS Digital, said, “Data saves lives and has huge potential to rapidly improve care and outcomes, as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. The vaccine rollout could not have been delivered without effective use of data to ensure it reached the whole population. We are absolutely determined to take people with us on this mission. We take our responsibility to safeguard the data we hold incredibly seriously.”

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