The Royal College of GPs has written to health secretary Matt Hancock calling for an immediate delay to the GP Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) programme
This follows on from their letter to NHS Digital last Friday, urging them to communicate better with the public about the new arrangements for data collection. An appropriate level of communication has not yet begun and time is now running out before the 23 June deadline for patients to register Type 1 opt-outs.
They have escalated their concerns to the secretary of state and called for the delay in order to allow time for a proper public information campaign and for patients to make informed decisions about the use of their data, including the right to opt out.
The College supports the principle of improved and more secure sharing of data for legitimate healthcare planning and research purposes, but it is critical that appropriate safeguards are in place to guard against any inappropriate uses of this data. Most importantly, any sharing of data must be transparent and maintain public trust in how general practice and the NHS more widely uses their information.
They have also reiterated to the health secretary that at this time of extreme workload pressures, as well as the focus on the COVID-19 vaccination programme, it must not be left to GPs to communicate with patients on this issue. It must be done by NHS Digital and thoroughly.