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GP contract: practices get access to DPOs through CCGs

by Elisabeth Mahase
1 February 2019

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Practices will be given access to a data protection officer (DPO) through their CCG, according to the new GP contract.

The five-year contract, announced by NHS England and the BMA yesterday, will also see a £20m funding boost added to the global sum each year – for the next three years – to cover GPs when dealing with subject access requests (SARs).

This will ensure GPs get paid to cover the costs of the requests, after the introduction of the data protection legislation last year removed GPs’ right to charge, the BMA said.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect on 25 May last year, GPs must designate a DPO to monitor compliance to the law and act as a point of contact for patients requesting access to their data.

CCGs have previously considered charging practices for access to a DPO, with one suggesting up to £1,800 a year.

GPs have been dealing with a barrage of subject access requests since the introduction of GDPR, according to the BMA, which reported that requests have increased over a third (36%) since the rules – which mean that GPs can no longer charge a nominal fee for such requests – came into force.

The new GP contract said: ‘In recognition of income loss and workload from subject access requests, £20m of additional funding will be added to the global sum for the next three years.’

In a statement, the BMA told GPs: ‘Funding for practices to deal with subject access requests following the removal of the ability to cover costs under GDPR legislation.

‘Practices will also have access to a DPO through their CCG, to provide support on GDPR issues.’

Earlier this month, the GP partnership review suggested that CCGs pay for practices’ data protection officers, to help overworked GPs cope with patient data requests.

NHS subsidies private companies and solicitors

Clive Elliott, business partner at Court Street Medical Practice in Shropshire said: ‘While it is welcome that the Government has belatedly recognised the cost of SARs to general practice, this amount is probably about a quarter of the true cost. In our practice, the cost is approximately £10,000 a year so if this amount is divided pro-rata that means about £2,500 – meaning we still have to cover the rest out of practice funds.

‘The Government would have been far better amending the Data Protection Act to reinstate the fee for third party SARs. This would mean a return to the £50 contribution without any charge for patients accessing their own records. As it is, the NHS will continue to subsidise private companies and solicitors.’

A version of this story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.