The NHS’s greatest asset — that’s how the 67 million files containing patients’ medical records and held by GP surgeries across the UK have been described.
This vast library of information, detailing every diagnosis and treatment each of us has ever had, is a precise account of the nation’s wellbeing and a vital tool for tracking illness and improving standards of healthcare.
But in May, NHS Digital — the body that oversees the use of data in the health service — revealed plans for a new scheme, called General Practice Data for Planning and Research, to upload records of all NHS patients in England from GP surgeries to its own central database from July 1.
‘If you don’t want to have your GP medical records on the new database, search online and print off a ‘type 1 opt-out form’ — or ask your GP for one. Return the completed form to your GP practice.Alternatively, call NHS Digital on 0300 303 5678 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and ask for one to be sent to you. (Calls to 0300 numbers cost up to 10p per minute from landlines, and up to 40p per minute from a mobile.)
Return the form to your GP practice on or before June 23 to allow time for it to be processed before NHS Digital starts collecting the data on July 1. If you miss this deadline, you can still opt out, but this only stops new information on your records being added to the database — it won’t erase information already there. To opt out of having your hospital data shared, visit digital.nhs.uk/services/ national-data-opt-out.’