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Hundreds of practices to ‘test’

23 April 2014

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Between 100 and 500 general practices will be involved in trialing the programme before it rolls out nationally. 

The practices will be tasked with testing, evaluating and refunding the process of data collection, NHS England has revealed. 

An independent advisory group has also been established, which is currently in discussions with the British Medical Association, Healthwatch and the Royal College of General Practitioners about the scheme. 

In a letter to area teams and clinical commissioning groups, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, Tim Kelsey claimed that this will increase the protection of confidentiality and ensure greater transparency around data releases. 

He wrote: “Over the coming months, the Health and Social Care Information Centre will work to provide assurances over the safety of data collected, stored and shared, including the option of accessing data from a controlled environment, sometimes referred to as a ‘data-lab’ or ‘fume-cupboard’, for use by organisations requesting data.

“We need to do more to ensure that patients and the public have a clear understanding of the programme and will continue this over the coming weeks and months. In particular, we have been asked to provide greater assurance on issues such as: patients’ right to object to their identifiable data being shared; protecting privacy; the  NHS England: High quality care for all, now and for future generations burden on GPs; and the controls around data.

“We will work with stakeholders to produce support materials, such as an optional template letter for patients and ways of making opting-out more straightforward.” 

The roll out of the programme have previously been postponed until this autumn because of confidentiality concerns and a possible lack of public awareness.