40 per cent of GPs plan to opt out of the NHS big data sweep, due to a lack of confidence in the project

 

Health Reporter

Family doctors are concerned that the “total confidentiality” of GP consultations could be under threat from a major NHS data scheme which will see confidential patient records stored in a national database.

A survey carried out for the GP’s magazine Pulse, has revealed widespread scepticism about the care.data project, with more than 40 per cent of a sample of 400 GPs saying they would not let information about their own personal health go to the database.

The care.data scheme is one of the biggest NHS data extractions in recent times. It is aimed at expanding the range of knowledge that health professionals and officials will have at their disposal when planning NHS services in England.

With the exception of some particularly sensitive patient information – including records of abortions, sexuality, or criminal records – all of the computerised notes that a GP takes down in a consultation will be held, in identifiable form, in a central database at the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The data can then be bought by third party researchers – including private companies – with identifiable information, such as a patient’s NHS number, date of birth and postcode removed. Patients can opt themselves out of the scheme.

However, privacy campaigners have raised concerns both about the security of the data and plans to make identifiable data available to third parties, if approved by an independent NHS confidentiality panel, warning that patients will not know who has access to their private information.

The project is backed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association, but many GPs have had longstanding concerns.

Leaflets explaining the scheme are being sent to every household in England, following criticism that too few patients were aware of their right to opt out. But Pulse’s survey suggests that the publicity drive has done little to allay GP’s concerns about the data sweep.

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, told The Independent that “the overall principle” of using GP’s patient data to improve knowledge and research was sound, but that GPs were worried patients would lose trust in GP consultations.

“We have a very basic principle that whatever our patients tell us is confidential,” he said. “We are completely hamstrung if patients feel they can’t tell us something that – in many cases – they wouldn’t tell anyone else. It is this threat to total confidentiality at consultations that gets up most GP’s noses.”

He said that the scheme would inspire more confidence if data was made anonymous at the point it was extracted from GP surgery’s own databases – rather than being held in identifiable form at the HSCIC.

Of a sample of 400 GPs surveyed by Pulse, 43 per cent said they would opt out of the scheme, 40 per cent said they would not and 16 per cent said they were unsure.

Dr Imran Rafi, chair of the RCGP’s clinical innovation and research centre, said care.data could bring benefits to all NHS patients.

“GPs understand the importance of sharing information appropriately both as part of delivering clinical care and for wider uses, such as research and for planning NHS services,” he said.

An NHS England spokesperson said: "Sharing information about the care you have received helps us understand the health needs of everyone and the quality of the treatment and care being provided.

"Everyone has the right to register objection, and to have that objection honoured."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine