Patients still in the dark about Care.data
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair, BMA’s General Practitioner’s Committee
“With just weeks to go until the uploading of patient data is scheduled to begin, patients remain inadequately informed about these proposals. As shown in a recent survey only 29% of the public recall receiving a leaflet, while 45% remain unaware of plans to share their data.”
Feedback from GPs across the country, indicates that large numbers of patients have not received any information about the plans, while others were worried about who would have access to it and how it would be used, he said.
The BMA backed the principle of using anonymised data to plan and improve the quality of NHS care, but it had to be done with the support and consent of the public, he said.
“The public awareness campaign has clearly not worked, and today we call on the government to ensure public trust in the system by properly informing the public about care.data before the currently planned data extracts commence, and produce evidence this has been achieved prior to uploads taking place,” he demanded.
The BMA was in talks with NHS England about how to proceed, he said.
SumOfUs member and retired GP Dr Ron Singer added: “The government need to explain who is going to get access to this data, exactly for what purpose and for how much. Patient/doctor confidentiality shouldn’t be open to influence by corporate lobbyists and put at risk all for a fast buck.”
Following concerns raised by its members about what to tell patients, the Medical Protection Society has today reminded GPs that their primary responsibility at this stage relates to the fair processing of information.
Practices must ensure that they engage with the process and follow the guidance* issued by NHS England, it says, as this “will put them in the best position in the event that a complaint is raised.”
OnMedica - 17 February 2014
Doctors raise fears over sharing NHS patient
NHS England has given assurances that insurance companies will not be sold data for insurance purposes. But the plans mean that private health companies that happen to have an insurance arm could be allowed access.
There is also a proposal, being discussed next month, which could give non-NHS bodies, including pharmaceutical companies, access to the data.
But an online petition, by campaign group SumOfUs.org, has received around 240,000 signatures from people against the sale of information to private companies.
Meanwhile, a risk assessment by NHS England, the organisation behind the scheme, raises concerns about the initiative.
The document, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, states: "The extraction of personal confidential data from providers without consent carries the risk that patients may lose trust in the confidential nature of the health service." It adds: "The risks described include threats associated with 'cyberspace' such as hackers attempting to access the data illegally."
A spokeswoman for NHS England said: "We are absolutely committed to ensuring the public understand the benefits of this important initiative and also the choices available to them.
"This is why we provided leaflets and posters to every GP practice in August 2013, have produced a video animation, and have established an information line - 0300 456 3531 - for patients to call if they have any questions or concerns. Information is also available on NHS choices.
"We contracted Royal Mail to deliver a leaflet to every possible household in England during January. We are concerned by reports that some households have not received a leaflet and are following this up with Royal Mail as a matter of urgency."
The Independent - 17 February 2014