Under a new agreement hammered out between the BMA and the Department for Health, which is running the £12.7 billion National Programme for IT, primary care trusts will only be permitted to create care records when GP practices are satisfied that patients are adequately informed and able to opt out. The agreement also attempts to address questions raised over data quality.
The automatic opt-in of patients to the system, presuming consent unless patients opt out within three months of receiving an information pack, has come under heavy fire on a number of occasions. The BMA has said patients need to be “treated like adults” and given the choice to opt in, but now appears to be content that GP surgeries will have to approve the uploads.
The system has also been criticised in a government-commissioned review by University College London, that states pilot rollouts demonstrated many patients did not understand what they were being opted in to. Nevertheless, the automatic opt-in will remain.
Under the new agreement, the BMA and Department of Health have also decided that data must be of an “appropriate quality for sharing” as agreed between GP surgeries and NHS primary care trusts. A statement between the BMA and NHS employers on behalf of the Department of Health says that practices “must be fully supported and informed to upload data”.
The Department of Health has also committed to work with the BMA and other stakeholders to improve templates for trusts to use in order to improve public awareness.