John Leonard reports:
The care.data programme currently being piloted in a few hundred GP practices before a planned national rollout expands NHS England’s collection of medical data for analytical use. Since 1989 information on hospital stays has been collected for analysis and the new programme will extend this to cover data resulting from patients’ visits to their GPs. Evidence from studying such data can be invaluable for medical research, including epidemiology and screening for cancer, and to monitor key information, such as how many patients a doctor has seen.
The rollout, which began last year, is widely considered a badly botched operation because of the high-handed way that it was communicated, in that that patient consent was taken for granted, and for a lack of transparency and clarity about what the programme aims to achieve. Its cause was not helped when it was revealed that NHS hospital data has been sold to insurance firms, despite assurances during the care.data rollout that patient data is not for sale. Put simply, the public is not convinced, and neither are many GPs.
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