Unlike the widely touted (and now delayed) date for lifting all remaining lockdown restrictions, the deadline for patients to opt-out of a scheme to create an unprecedented central database of patient data currently held by GPs went largely unnoticed before campaign groups and journalists picked up on the story.
Details of the data grab – scheduled for 1st July but now pushed back to 1 September – were last month quietly unveiled online and in a leaflet distributed solely in GP surgeries. This is in sharp contrast to the similar but much less ambitious care.data scheme – launched in 2013 but abandoned just three years later – which saw every household in England receive a leaflet about those proposals.
Described by NHS Digital (NHSD) simply as an “improved collection” service which has been welcomed by “respected voices” across the health sector, the latest data grab – known as the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) service and representing a ‘scrape’ of 55m patients’ medical histories – is being presented as an essential upgrade of the existing GP Extraction Service to help the NHS cope with the demands of the pandemic and beyond, and builds on an arrangement already in place that was introduced last year under emergency covid legislation.
Full story in The Lowdown, 14 June 2021