The British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have published a joint letter to NHS Digital to express their concerns about the General Data Practice for Planning and Research (GPDPR) program.
NHS Digital announced in May 2021 that the new service would come in force on July 1, 2021, with the scheduled date until June 23 to choose not to participate. The service aims to provide planners and researchers with faster access to pseudonymized patient information from GPs.
Aimed at Richard Alcock, NHS Digital’s Director of Primary Care Technology, the letter said that while the two organizations “support the principles of the new collection in promoting data exchange,” they wanted to formally express their concerns “about the lack of communication with the public” so does to the GPDPR.
“We are fully aware of the crucial role that GP data must play in research and planning that can improve public health,” the letter states.
“However, it is important that any data exchange is transparent and maintains public confidence in how general practice and the NHS use their information more widely.
“The current situation, in which communications have been limited to NHS Digital ‘s online platforms and, by extension, only those with digital literacy are not sufficiently informing patients in the collection.
“Providing information to share GP practices in waiting rooms after the program has already begun is an ineffective addition, especially given the social distancing restrictions that limit the number of patients attending your doctor in person or spend time in the waiting rooms “.
The letter, signed by Professor Martin Marshall, President of the RCGP, and Dr. Richard Vautrey, Chairman of the BMA General Practitioners Committee, also raises concerns about the impact on GPs.
“It is unreasonable and inappropriate to allow GPs to communicate with patients at a time of extreme workload pressures and focus on the Covid-19 vaccination program,” the letter adds. .
“The RCGP and BMA have supported internship communications in recognition of the legal requirement to meet the new collection, but no organization has approved the program.
“Given this legal requirement, individual practices have had no choice in this collection and cannot be responsible for ensuring that patients are properly informed.”
The letter concludes with the two organizations asking NHS Digital to “reconsider” their stance on the GPDPR.
“We would ask NHSD to reconsider your position on this and take immediate action to conduct a public information campaign, possibly including the use of national help desks and local champions to whom GPs can refer patients in order to ensure that the public is properly informed about this. new collection and its options in terms of deactivation, “he says.
The BMA and the RCGP join several organizations that have raised concerns about GPDPR, with some threatening legal actions.
The next edition of Digital Health Unplugged will explore general practice data for planning and research. Guests will include MedConfidential’s Phil Booth and will be available to listen to it on Spotify and Apple Podcasts on June 15th.