Majority of GPs criticise NHS England care.data lack of information

Crucial leaflets about a scheme to share patient records nationally for the first time could be getting discarded alongside takeaway menus and supermarket offers, the MPS has warned.

Two-thirds of patients said they have not received the leaflet from NHS England explaining the new care.data system
Two-thirds of patients said they have not received the leaflet from NHS England explaining the new care.data system

Just weeks ahead of the launch of the care.data scheme, the MPS discovered GPs and patients lacked essential information about the programme. It said the NHS must do more to help patients make informed decisions about their involvement with care.data.

The MPS survey of more than 600 GPs found 78% think NHS England has not provided them with enough information to properly inform patients about care.data. A further 80% said they did not have a good understanding of how patient data would be used in the care.data system.

A total of 55% of GPs expressed concerns about the care.data system. Of these, 80% believe the system could undermine public confidence in the principle of medical confidentiality.

Just 28% of GPs think care.data will join up medical records across the care pathway and only 32% believe it will aid local decision makers on how best to meet the needs of local communities.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, medicolegal adviser at MPS, said: ‘There is no doubt that technology offers enormous opportunities in managing healthcare, but we do not want this to be at the cost of trust between the doctor and patient. Some patients may see the scheme as an unwelcome intrusion into their personal lives which could irreversibly damage the relationship with their family doctor.’

The MPS is the latest organisation to express concerns about the roll out of the scheme. Last week the RCGP called for a major public campaign about the care.data scheme, after it found patients have yet to be ‘properly informed’ about its benefits or their right to opt out.

Earlier this month MP Rosie Cooper (Lab, West Lancashire) said GPs in her constituency and across north-west England felt under pressure to ensure large numbers of patients did not opt out of the care.data programme.

The MPS also discovered widespread confusion among patients about the scheme. Two-thirds of respondents said they have not received the leaflet from NHS England explaining the new care.data system. A further 45% said they did not understand the proposals.

Dr Bradshaw said it was ‘worrying’ that GPs felt patients lacked the appropriate information to make an informed decision about the care.data programme.

He said: ‘This is a huge step in modernising health services, which most people will only find out about in a mail-drop to households and that may get lost or discarded along with take-away menus and supermarket offers.’

Dr Bradshaw added: ‘The extraction of patient data is imminent and MPS believes that the onus is now on the NHS to do more. It needs to make sure that GPs have enough information to support patients with any enquiries about care.data and that patients receive information to enable them to make an informed decision about their personal information.’

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