Government delays controversial NHS data sharing plans.

Update – 22nd June 2021 If you have your phone number registered with your GP practice, you should have received the following text. “Following endorsement by the British Medical Association, Royal College of General Practitioners and National Data Guardian, NHS Digital is collecting and disseminating GP data for planning and research (GPDfPR). Patients who do NOT want their data to be extracted have until 25th August 2021, to register a “Type 1 Opt Out”. Reply to this message, TYPE1OUT or use your NHS app, in health tab choose record sharing preference. For more info please follow this link: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/data-collections-and-data-sets/data-collections/general-practice-data-for-planning-and-research

The National Pensioners’ Convention has been campaigning with a coalition, led by tech justice watchdog Foxglove to halt the hurried ‘grab’ of our health data by July 1 without full consultation.

According to human rights lawyers Cori Crider and Rosa Curling of Foxglove, our medical records could be worth as much as £10billion to private enterprise. Despite NHS Digital’s assurances that the information would be coded and ‘pseudonymous’ there are genuine concerns that this would be easy to unlock and share with private enterprise, including US pharmaceutical companies.

NHS Digital’s controversial plans to extract all files from GPs in England from the end of June, has now been pushed back to the beginning of September to allow for “ministers to talk to doctors, patients and charities to strengthen the plan and to ensure data is accessed securely and to seek meaningful patient consent” according to government Health Minister, Jo Churchill.

Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary commented “Along with our partners, we will take the opportunity to watch carefully what happens over the next two months. Given the government’s lack of transparency so far on this mammoth data phishing exercise, we will be scrutinising carefully what they do next in terms of truly consulting with us all on what happens to our very personal health records.”

There are concerns that the full GP records of every man, woman, and child in England will be scraped and sent into a central database. Our health information could then be made available to other parties, some of whom may use it for financial gain.

Patients will be given until 25 August to opt out of NHS Digital’s mass extraction of GP data, by contacting their GP practice. The government says patients can also opt out of NHS Digital’s GP data extraction by filling in a type-1 opt-out form and sending it to their GP practice via post or email by the deadline. but most people have never heard of this scheme and there were fears that GP practice staff do not have the capacity to process a surge of opt-outs, especially if they came at the last minute.

There are also warnings from the BMA and RCGP, that patients had not been sufficiently informed of the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) programme, which replaces the GP Extraction Service (GPES).

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