Earlier in 2021, the NHS announced there would be upcoming changes to the way in which patient information from GP surgeries was collected, in order to assist and support health care planning and research. Last month on 19th July, the government aired an announcement to confirm the scheme is being postponed, and will no longer commence on the previously fixed date of 1st September.
The scheme aims to reduce work for GPs, enabling them to have more time to focus on the treatment and care of patients, as opposed to the administration and data collection side of their work. The new data collection system is named the General Practice Data for Planning and Research, and has been developed by NHS Digital. More information about the scheme itself is available via the NHS website.
The NHS has engaged with the British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the National Data Guardian (NDG) in order to ensure relevant safeguards are implemented for both patients and GP practices. It is possible to opt-out of the new data-sharing scheme, however you must have done so before the 1st September 2021.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary Of State for Health and Social Care, Jo Churchill, has deferred the scheme in order to allow for additional time to discuss matters with patients, doctors, health charities and other involved parties.
The government cited a lack of awareness among the healthcare systems and patients, many of whom are distrustful of data use and data protection. They hope that on addressing data gathering and other safeguarding issues, and once a greater awareness, trust and engagement among healthcare providers and patients has been established, the scheme can resume.