MP backs GP opposition to issuing practice-level data

GPs' objections to publishing practice-level prescribing data have been backed in a letter to the prime minister by a Labour MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP: 'My concerns have been echoed by both the RCGP and the Patients' Association'
Tom Blenkinsop MP: 'My concerns have been echoed by both the RCGP and the Patients' Association'

Tom Blenkinsop (Lab, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) claimed the policy could jeopardise patient privacy. He described the plans contained in the Health Bill as 'distasteful and dangerous'.

In a letter to David Cameron, he said private companies would benefit from the proposals.

Mr Blenkinsop asked for assurance that patient data will be 'treated with respect and not simply used as a cash cow'.

Under the Bill, practices would be mandated to provide any data required by the NHS Information Centre. At present, this information is collected but kept private.

Last month, the RCGP argued this could create a direct conflict for doctors between their professional duty to maintain patient confidentiality and a legal duty to abide by the Bill (GP, 20 May).

The NHS Information Centre argues that responsibility needs to be taken for data in order to ensure quality is driven up.

Mr Blenkinsop said the government seemed to have ignored the fact that the NHS Information Centre concluded in 2009 that publishing such data would not be desirable.

'The concerns that I have raised, in PMQs and in my letter to Mr Cameron, are also concerns that have been echoed by both the RCGP and the Patients' Association. But that, too, seems to matter little to the government,' he said.

Mr Blenkinsop also expressed anger that a review of the proposals was being conducted in private. 'It is deeply regrettable that the government has not seen fit to make the review public, in the first place.'

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