In July we advised patients about a new NHS Digital framework for data extraction called GDPR which planned for safe and secure access to GP Practices in England to collect data in order to analyse and publish statistical data to be used for health and social care purposes.
This data will inform the planning & commissioning of services, policy development and be used for public health purposes and research.
Following concerns raised in response to the Department of Health and Social Care initial plans for NHS Digital to upload GP data to their central database the implementation of this data collection has been postponed.
NHS Digital are working with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British medical Association (BMA) to revise their plans with the following assurances;
- Patient data will be deleted if a patient opts-out of sharing their patient data with NHS Digital at any time, even if this is after it has been uploaded. Patients can opt in or out at any stage and the data held will reflect their current decision;
- The back-log or opt-out requests recently received has been cleared so that all current preferences are recorded;
- A Trusted Research Environment (TRE) will be developed and implemented at NHS Digital solely for the purpose of storing this data which is to be used for the purpose of improving health and care only. All data will be pseudonymised and encrypted by the GP clinical system prior to transfer to NHS Digital and is not and never will be ‘for sale’;
- Patients are made aware of the scheme via an initial consultation with a further engagement and communication campaign.
There is no longer a specific start date for the collection of data as this process will not commence until the above assurances have been met.
In addition to this NHS Digital are working on a process that enables patients to opt out centrally.
The value and importance of the data upload programme is undeniable given the recent achievements made during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Neither the discovery that the steroid Dexamethasone could save the lives of a third of the most vulnerable patients on ventilators or the speed of the vaccine rollout in the UK would have been possible without data from GP Practices.
We would like to reassure patients at the Practice that if you have previously registered a type 1 opt-out to decline the upload of data to NHS Digital then this still stands. As more information becomes available from NHS Digital we will share these with our patients.