TO ALL GPs AND PRACTICE MANAGERS
You will be aware that data extraction of patient records to the Health and Social Care Information Centre is about to commence shortly, and have probably seen the media furore surrounding this.I expect that most of you share the concerns that have been highlighted, as does the LMC. The problem is that the Health and Social Care act gives the government the legal right to extract records in this way, but, as data controllers, it is still practices’ responsibility to ensure appropriate confidentiality safeguards in respect of this “secondary use” of data, to inform their patients appropriately and to give them the opportunity to opt out.Whilst this is an unacceptable position for practices to have been put in, I’m afraid there is nothing that we can do to prevent this. Please see below a self-explanatory communication from the BMA.You will see that all practices will shortly start to receive information and guidance on the implementation of data extraction, together with patient information materials and advice on how to opt patients out should that be their wish.
Once again could I confirm that, as unacceptable as this is, the HSCA gives the government the legal right to extract data in this way, and the Data Protection Act places a LEGAL DUTY ON PRACTICES to raise patient awareness of this.
Dr. Robert Morley
Birmingham Local Medical Committee
You may have heard of the new care.data service commissioned by NHS England.This is the first use of the new powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to extract confidential data from providers into the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). The intention is to make increased use of clinical information with the aim of improving healthcare, for example by ensuring that data are made available to NHS Commissioners so that they can better design integrated services for patients.
The BMA supports the use of data for secondary uses but also recognises the importance of confidentiality.We have negotiated the right for patients to object to the use of confidential data for these secondary uses.We have also considered the GP dataset to be extracted which appears to be appropriate for commissioning purposes.We have also jointly badged the GP guidance with the RCGP, NHS England and the HSCIC as we feel it is important that GP practices understand their obligations under both the Health and Social Care Act and the Data Protection Act. The HSCA removes the duty of GPs to seek consent prior to extractions but it does not remove the duty to raise patient awareness about the extractions.
Materials have been tested in a small number of practices and their feedback has been incorporated into a revised set of materials and resources.From mid August, over a 4 week period, practices will begin to receive an email containing information about the implementation of care.data. The emailwill include links to a number of resources and materials. Practices will also receive a separate communications pack containing patient information and materials. We are informingpractices now so that they are prepared for this information. The ICO has been involved in these discussions and has made it clear that GPs as data controllers are responsible for patient awareness raising. It is important that when practices receive this information they display the poster and make leaflets available in the practice without delay as extractions will begin approximately 8 weeks after they receive the materials. Other resources will also be included in the email communication to practices.
Senior Policy Executive
NHS Primary Care Division
Representational and Political Activities Directorate
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