Controversial plans to share medical records will be delayed until later this year to allow more time to “build understanding of the benefits of using the information”, health officials have confirmed.
Pressure has been mounting on NHS England, the body behind the scheme, after doctors’ leaders said patients need to know how their data will be used outside the NHS.
Both the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have both warned that patients are being kept in the dark about the plans.
NHS England yesterday said that the roll out of the scheme, that was due to take place in April, will now happen later this year.
A spokesman said: “To ensure that the concerns of the BMA, RCGP, Healthwatch and other groups are met, NHS England will begin collecting data from GP surgeries in the Autumn, instead of April, to allow more time to build understanding of the benefits of using the information, what safeguards are in place, and how people can opt out if they choose to.”
Patients, doctors and other professional organisations, have raised concerns that they have not been given enough time to learn about the project.
NHS England has said it will work with patients and professional groups to promote awareness of the scheme.
“We have been told very clearly that patients need more time to learn about the benefits of sharing information and their right to object to their information being shared,” said Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information at NHS England.
“That is why we are extending the public awareness campaign by an extra six months.”
Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA’s general practitioners committee, said: “With just weeks to go until the uploading of patient data was scheduled to begin, it was clear from GPs on the ground that patients remain inadequately informed about the implications of care.data.
“While the BMA is supportive of using anonymised data to plan and improve the quality of NHS care for patients, this must only be done with the support and consent of the public, and it is only right that they fully understand what the proposals mean to them and what their rights are if they do not wish their data to be extracted.”