RCGP voices concerns about care.data

Publication date: 12 February 2014

RCGP concern over level of information given to public before care.data programme begins

RCGP Honorary Secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said:

"We are very concerned that, with just seven weeks to go before the national roll out, the public have not been properly informed about the benefits of and the safeguards surrounding the care.data programme.

"The inevitable result of the failure to make the case for the scheme is the crisis of public confidence that we are now seeing.

"We urgently need a renewed national push by the authorities to ensure that patients are fully informed, in clear terms, about the benefits of the scheme, what their rights are, and what their rights to opt out are.

"Many GPs remain uncertain about the safeguards that will apply.

"The College remains supportive of the care.data initiative in principle, as we believe that it will help the NHS improve the quality of care for patients and to better prepare for outbreaks of infectious disease, such as flu, through for example, the use of shared suitably anonymised data to build up a picture of which treatments work best.

"However we urgently need reassurance about what plans are being made to address current GP and public concerns to restore public confidence in the scheme.

"The Government and NHS England need to act immediately, otherwise further questions will inevitably be asked about the wisdom of rushing the scheme through before the current gaps in information and awareness have been addressed.

"It would be a tragedy if something that could have enormous benefits for patient care falls at the first hurdle because of a failure of communication.

"It is vital that patients and doctors are as informed and as confident as they can be in the scheme, and in the safeguards in place to ensure patient confidentiality, before it is introduced across England.

"We have been informed by NHS England that the Health and Social Care Information Centre does not make a profit from providing data to other organisations; that data will not be sold to insurance companies for the purposes of insurance and that confidential data can only be disclosed where allowed by the law.

"The College has produced guidance [PDF] on secondary uses of data."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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