Patients must be made aware of NHS information sharing project, warns Somerset LMC (From Yeovil Express)
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Patients must be made aware of NHS information sharing project, warns Somerset LMC
12:30pm Wednesday 30th October 2013 in News
HEALTH chiefs in Somerset say it is vital that patients are made fully aware of a ground-breaking NHS project which involves sharing confidential information.
The Somerset Local Medical Committee is doing all it can to inform people of the General Practice Extraction Service, which could make patient records accessible to research centres and universities in future.
The project is being driven by NHS England, but has been championed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and forms part of the Health & Social Care Bill passed in 2011.
Dr Sue Roberts, chairman of Somerset LMC, said: “There will understandably be concerns, but a lot of people already think this information is being shared, so for some it won’t be a worry and for others it will be.
“We want patients to understand the process, know that information is being taken and what for, and know how they can opt out.
“Posters have been put up around surgeries informing them of the project.”
Mr Hunt argues that the data will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.
The Health & Social Care Information Cen-tre says the aim of passing on patient information to “approved organisations” is “to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness”.
Dr Roberts believes this is a “reasonable” method of gathering patient information if it improves health care and does not put people’s identities at risk.
She said: “The data will be extracted from us remotely, not to the extent that we don’t know it’s being taken, but it means we won’t be pushing a button to send it off.
“It’s a reasonable way to extract information as long as it doesn’t identify the individual.
“The purpose is not to do that – it’s population data to show how many diabetics we have, how many suffer from dementia and so on.”
The GPES is a centrally managed primary care data service which extracts information from GPs’ IT systems for a range of purposes at national level.
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