Every household in England will be sent information about a landmark health data project that will see patient records from all GP surgeries collected by the NHS.
The care.data project has been beset by confusion and concerns from GPs and privacy campaigners that the public were not being properly informed about the scheme. Leaflets will be delivered over four weeks in January 2014, and data extracts will begin shortly after.
Patients have the right to opt out of the scheme, which will see their records stored in a central database, where they can be used by NHS organisations to plan services. Patients will have access to their own data.
Kingsley Manning, Chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the new organisation that will manage the data, said: “The duty on the HSCIC to preserve and protect confidentiality and privacy is clear and we are determined to uphold it. The huge benefits offered by the development of care.data are also clear but can only be delivered in the context of public understanding and trust.”