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NHS Digital has now stated that to provide more time to speak with patients, doctors, health charities and others, the planned collection of GP data for Planning and Research in England has been deferred from 1 July to 1 September 2021.

Data held in GP medical records of patients is used every day to support health and care planning and research in England, helping to find better treatments and improve patient outcomes for everyone. The existing service used by NHS Digital now needs to be replaced and having engaged with doctors, patients, data and governance experts, NHS Digital has developed a new system: General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) data collection.

Outlining details of the new system, NHS Digital explains that the new data collection reduces the burden on GP practices, allowing doctors and other staff to focus on patient care. NHS Digital adds that it has engaged with the British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the National Data Guardian (NDG) to ensure relevant safeguards are in place for patients and GP practices.

Data will be shared from GP medical records from 1 September 2021 about:

  • any living patient registered at a GP practice in England when the collection started – this includes children and adults
  • any patient who died after this data sharing started, and was previously registered at a GP practice in England when the data collection started

NHS Digital will not collect patients’ names or addresses. Any other data that could directly identify patients (such as NHS Number, date of birth, full postcode) is replaced with unique codes which are produced by de-identification software before the data is shared with NHS Digital. This process, pseudonymisation, means that patients will not be identified directly in the data. NHS Digital will be able to use the software to convert the unique codes back to data that could directly identify patients in certain circumstances, and where there is a valid legal reason.

Patients who do not want data to be shared with NHS Digital must register a ‘Type 1 Opt-out’ and return a Type1 Opt-out form to their GP practice. For further details please click here

For full information regarding NHS Digital’s General Practice Data for Planning and Research, please visit NHS Digital here