Update on the new NHS digital scheme for collecting data from GPs


Earlier this year, the NHS announced it was changing how they collect patient information from GP surgeries in order to support health and care planning and research. This week, the government announced it was postponing the scheme.

The NHS Digital Scheme for collecting data from GPs has been delayed by the Government until key conditions are met.

The scheme, which was set up in June 2021 to change the way the NHS collected patient information from GP surgeries, aims to provide data to support healthcare research and planning.

The patient data, collected from medical records, aims to give GPs more time to provide better treatment and care for the patients they see.

Patients were asked to opt-in or opt-out of the scheme by 1 September 2021.

This week the Government postponed the scheme because of lack of awareness among the healthcare system and patients.

What key conditions need to be met before the scheme will be reintroduced?

Key conditions to be met are the following.

• Patients who decide to opt-out of sharing their medical records data with NHS Digital should now be allowed to do so at any time, even if they originally agreed to their data being uploaded.

• The backlog of data opt-outs should be cleared.

• Data collection will now only begin when a Trusted Research Environment is in place to ensure that GP data will not be copied or shipped outside of the UK (unless individuals have consented to participating in a research study for example). This will give patients a higher level of confidence that their data is being stored safely and will only be used for healthcare improvements.

• Patients have been made more aware of the scheme through a campaign of engagement and communication. This is to explain how data is used and patient choices

It is hoped that once data gathering and safeguarding issues are addressed and there is greater awareness and engagement among healthcare providers and patients, the scheme can resume. Currently, no date has been set.

For more information about the NHS General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR), please see our earlier blog post.