NHS Digital is a national body that manages national IT and data services across England. NHS Digital has collected patient data from GPs using a service called General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) over the last 10 years but it now needs replacing. Consequently, NHS Digital is currently implementing a new system called General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR), which will be a database of over 55 million patients.
The purpose of collecting the data is to:
- Support research and analysis to improve health and care services.
- Support the planning and commissioning of health and care services.
- Support the development of health and care policy.
Collecting patient data benefits both the NHS and its patients because this enables:
- Identification of new treatments and medicines.
- Monitoring of long-term safety and effectiveness of care.
- To slow or prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
The data collected will include information about patients’ physical, mental and sexual health, however, it will be pseudonymised. This is a technique that will remove all personal identification (such as your name, NHS number, date of birth, full address etc) and replace it with unique codes so you as an individual cannot be identified in the database. NHS Digital could only use the software to convert the unique code back to data that could identify patients if there was a valid legal reason.
From the 1 July 2021 data from GP medical records may be shared by GP practices with NHS Digital. You can opt-out (Type 1 Opt-out) from your data being collected by filling in a form from the NHS Digital website and returning it to your GP. Click here to access the form or you can download the form below. The deadline is 1 September 2021.
You can use this form to:
- register a Type 1 Opt-out, for yourself or for a dependent (if you are the parent or legal guardian of the patient) (to Opt-out)
- withdraw an existing Type 1 Opt-out, for yourself or a dependent (if you are the parent or legal guardian of the patient) if you have changed your preference (Opt-in)
This decision will not affect individual care and you can change your choice at any time, using this form. This form, once completed, should be sent to your GP practice by email or post.
There is currently a great deal of debate about this on social media and in the press. NHS Digital explicitly states they will not approve requests for data to be used for insurance or marketing purposes; promoting or selling products or services; market research and advertising.
Please follow the links below for information direct from NHS Digital: