NHS Digital has been set up to collect data from GP practices, to help support care and research. It supplies information and data to the health service, provides technological infrastructure, and helps different parts of health and care work together.
It is about to embark on a fairly substantial project to upload the medical data of 55 million patients to a centralised system. The medical data will include mental health and sexual health data, criminal records and other sensitive information, albeit anonymised. Patients are referred to by a unique code.
The new system will be called the General Practice Data for Planning and Research. NHS Digital is permitted to share this data with third parties for research and development purposes. You are automatically opted-in to this project.
If you wish to opt out, there are two processes:
- Contact your GP and complete the relevant form in relation to the data held by your GP. The GP must have this form back by 23 June 2021 although there’s talk of this deadline being extended to 1 September 2021.
- In relation to your Hospital records, your options can be managed on the NHS website: NHS - Manage your choice
If you wish to opt out, but miss the deadline above, you can opt out at a later date. However, it sounds like this opt-out only applies to future entries in the medical records that have not already been uploaded to the centralised system.
NHS Digital says that the plan will be implemented from 1 September 2021 to give time for discussions with doctors, patients, health charities and others, to strengthen their plan and build a trusted research environment and ensure the data is accessed securely.