GPs and patients in the dark about care.data

The majority of the public and their GPs believe care.data has been poorly publicised and understood, RCGP and LMC polls have revealed.

Care.data scheme: GPs want more information
Care.data scheme: GPs want more information

A total of 65% of the English public said they did not believe care.data has been well-publicised, according to an RCGP-commissioned poll.

The survey also revealed that two thirds of the public believe that their right to opt out of having their records added to the national electronic database has not been well-publicised.

The results correlate with an independent study conducted by Leeds LMC, which found that 93% of its constituent GPs did not believe that patients understood the care.data programme, with 87% stating they did not believe patients were in a position to make an informed decision on whether to opt out or not. Over half said they would personally be opting out of the programme.

According to the RCGP poll, carried out by polling and research company ComRes, more people were in favour of the introduction of care.data (35%) than against it (27%), but a greater number reported that they neither supported or opposed the project (38%).

The RCGP also said they ‘supported’ the introduction of care.data, but stressed that the government and NHS England needed to ‘dramatically step up its efforts’ to publicise the workings and benefits of the project.

The introduction of care.data hopes to improve understanding of major illnesses and diseases, but the project’s detractors have expressed concerns regarding patient confidentiality and privacy.

In light of the criticism from the RCGP and other organisations, the government has delayed the introduction of care.data by six months to allow for proposed amendments to the Care Bill, which will more tightly regulate the way in which the collected data will be used.

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