NHS CB able to obtain patient data

NHS_commissioningBoard The NHS Commissioning Board will be allowed to use patient data to enable CCGs to compare their performance against other commissioners.

The GPES Independent Advisory Group (IAG) has approved the use of the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) for patient-anonymised data on demographics, diseases, events and referrals from GP systems.

The Commissioning Board said the data would be used by CCGs to analyse outcomes, compare data between different practices and to map lifestyle factors against public health estimates.

Although the Board is now free to cherry pick data on a monthly basis, the IAG has ruled the action is dependent on three conditions. The NHS CB must clearly define the purpose of data extraction; the BMA and RCCP should be involved in discussions around what data is used; and that the extraction of data will maintain patients’ rights at all times in line with the NHS Constitution.

Critics of the move have voiced concerns that patients will be unaware that private information will be used for purposes other than their care. Dr Paul Cundy, Chairman of the General Practitioner Committee IT subcommittee, called for a public campaign to raise awareness of the change in data protection.

His colleague, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC’s lead negotiator on IT, also backed measures to raise understanding of what the changes mean for patients. “We need to be confident that the rights of the public are respected,” he said. “It is vital the public are fully aware that these extractions are taking place. It’s unlikely a website in itself will be enough.”