I share the concerns of many GPs about NHS Digital, which is designed to hold the medical details of more than 55 million patients. From there they will be made available to the private sector and other researchers. Department of Health officials say the move will reduce the burden on GP practices and create a valuable resource.
The data will include details of patients’ physical, mental and sexual health but will be anonymised.
Critics say that process could be reversed if the material falls into the wrong hands.
They are also concerned that records will be automatically transferred to the new system on July 1 unless patients tell their GPs they want to opt out.
The deadline for doing so is June 23. The way to do it online is via this link: https://www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters/manage-your-choice/
The new system is already meeting a hostile reception in some areas, with a number of London GPs declaring they will refuse to hand the information over and questioning the legitimacy of the operation.
The Department of Health is trying to slip the scheme through under the radar.
At the very least patients should be sent personal letters setting out the proposals and giving them a chance to reflect and make a decision as to whether their information should or should not be made available.
I sincerely hope now that the opposition to this automatic transfer is gaining some traction the whole process will be put on hold so that a full public consultation can be conducted.”