NHS England to launch publicity campaign on care.data

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tim_kelsey web Despite previous assertions that it was the duty of GPs to inform patients of the new care.data programme, NHS England are to launch a publicity campaign in January to raise awareness of the changes that will see patient information shared with commissioners.

A nationwide leaflet campaign, costing NHS England £1m, will begin in January to inform patients of the changes to the way in which their records are treated. Patients will be offered four weeks to opt out of the care.data programme, which plans to extract patient information from GP records and share it with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The campaign announcement comes just months after NHS England had ruled out a publicity campaign and handed GPs the responsibility of informing patients about the care.data scheme. Concerns were then raised on patient confidentiality, with the announcement prompting calls for greater transparency from the General Practitioners Committee (GPC).

The GPC will welcome this recent change of approach from NHS England, which has now pledged to distribute leaflets to every household in the country to clearly outlined the care.data programme and inform patients of their right to opt out.

Under the care.data programme, patient identifiable data will be extracted from GP practices and shared with the HSCIC in a move that will, according to Tim Kelsey (pictured), NHS England’s Director of Patients and Information, offer commissioners a “more complete picture of the safety and quality of services in their local area which will lead to improvements to patient outcomes.”

For those who allow their confidential records to be used in the programme, identifiable information will be shared across the NHS commissioning system, with researchers and private companies able to make a bid for data with the patient’s consent.

The publicity leaflets will be sent out in January, with the care.data programme beginning its record extraction in subsequent months.