Intended for healthcare professionals


New GP patient data extraction scheme raises concern

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 28 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1389

Linked Opinion

Helen Salisbury: Should patients worry about their data?

  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. London

A new way to extract patients’ data from general practices in England has been criticised by privacy rights campaigning groups, which are concerned about the scheme’s lack of clarity and the level of detailed information being gathered.

However, medical profession representatives seem to broadly support the approach, although they agree that more needs to be done to clarify its purposes so it can secure public support.

Details were given on 12 May of the new GP data collection system for England, titled General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR), which goes live on 1 July and from which patients can choose to opt out by 23 June.1 It will replace the current GP Extraction Service (GPES).

Under the new scheme NHS Digital will collect data on treatments, referrals, and appointments over the past 10 years, alongside other data from medical records data for patients’ entire history. The new service is designed to enable faster access to pseudonymised data on around 55 million patients for planners and researchers.

But campaigners fear that much more data will be collected than has been attempted before, including information on mental and sexual health, criminal records, and abuse, and that the scheme is being rushed into place without …

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