GPs face bullying over opt outs, MP warns

GPs are being 'bullied' into stopping their patients from opting out of the government's record sharing programme, an MP has said.

Data: MP warns GPs face pressure over opt outs from scheme
Data: MP warns GPs face pressure over opt outs from scheme

MP Rosie Cooper (Lab, West Lancashire) said GPs in her constituency and across north-west England had spoken to her of the pressure they had been put under to ensure that large numbers of patients did not opt out of the programme, which will see GP patient records shared nationally for the first time.

Ms Cooper said although the GPs had said they didn’t want to go public with their experiences, they were ‘pretty angry’ at the verbal pressure that had been applied.

‘There’s been nothing in writing, but GPs do fear repercussions,' she said.

Ms Cooper said she had already opted out of the programme, and she said she would be writing to the Information Commissioner’s Office after receiving a letter from a clinical trials company offering orthopaedic work shortly after receiving treatment for a torn cartilage.

‘I want to know how they found out about it,’ she said.

A number of MPs have signed a motion calling for a House of Commons debate on the programme, and MP Roger Godsiff (Lab, Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath), one of the signatories, accused NHS England of ‘staggering complacency’ in its roll-out of the scheme.

He said NHS England was in ‘no position to presume consent on behalf of large swathes of the GP-using public to particularly sensitive data’.

An NHS England spokeswoman said it was ‘absolutely committed’ to making patients aware of their ability to opt-out of the programme.

‘If a patient wishes to object to their data being used for these purposes, it is their choice and this will be respected.’

The spokesperson added that GP practices must ensure that patients understand how their data is used and shared, and also their rights to object.

‘Once the data extracts begin in the Spring, we will work with the BMA and the RCGP to review cases of abnormal numbers of patient objections to ensure that objections are being implemented fairly.’

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