• Care.data

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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In October 2013, NHS England announced that in January 2014, each house in England would be sent a leaflet called ‘Better Information Means Better Care’ from the NHS.

The programme care.data was introduced last year, which outlined how information on GP records will be shared with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC.) Once the HSCIC receives the information from the GP surgery it will be linked with any hospital information it has on the patient. Patients can choose not to allow information about them to be shared. If patients choose to opt out of care.data, their GP will put a code on their records so they cannot be shared.

Over the past year the public and clinicians alike, have voiced concerns about the fact that almost any organisation can ask for patient information. There is a complete absence of clarity about what happens to data, how it is governed and who might eventually see it. Furthermore, there has been a failure of engagement with the GP community, a substantial number of GPs, if not a majority, appear to oppose the scheme.

Recent announcements highlight that almost a third of GPs say they intend to opt their patients out of the care.data scheme, if NHS England doesn’t accept calls for the scheme to be run on an opt-in basis. Furthermore, over half of the public are still unaware of what the care.data programme even is.

Currently the care.data programme has yet to be rolled out. Tim Kelsey (NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information) said in May 2014 “we will roll it out nationally only when we are sure the process is right.” In the meantime, discussions are still being held, with regard to the issues that are making patients and GPs alike, sceptical of the programme.

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