NHS Digital plans to implement a new system of collecting patient data from GP surgeries from 1 July. NHS Digital is the body that has responsibility for standardizing, collecting, analysing, publishing and sharing data and information from across the health and social care system, including general practice.
From 1 July 2021 patient data will be shared from your GP medical records unless you opt out.
NHS Digital will not collect patients’ names or addresses. Any other data that could directly identify patients (such as NHS Number, date of birth, full postcode) is replaced with unique codes which are produced by de-identification software before the data is shared with NHS Digital.
However, NHS Digital will be able to use the software to convert the unique codes back to data that could directly identify patients in certain circumstances, and where there is a valid legal reason.
The process appears to being rushed through, with GP surgeries being informed on 12 May to enable the collection process to begin from 1 July. And this at a time when they are already under pressure.
Clearly there are benefits to data sharing (for instance research and the identification and sharing of good practice). Significant concerns about security, anonymity and the speed at which the system is being introduced have been expressed by The Royal College of General Practitioners, the British Medical Association and a number of MPs.
The onus is on you to opt out, but you must do so by 23rd June.
If you do not wish your data to be shared, you need to complete a form (copy attached). Return it to the GP practice where you are registered no later than 23rd June – just 2 weeks away!
Opting out from hospital or non-GP data sharing is a separate process.
More information about opting out, including opting out from hospital data sharing, is available at:-