Webwatch: 45% of adults ‘unaware’ of new GP data scheme which shares patient information

Almost half of adults are not aware of the new GP data sharing scheme, a poll suggests.

Consumer body Which? said that there needs to be better communication around the new General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) programme.

The comments come after a new poll of 1,700 people found that 45% of adults were not aware of the scheme.

And 71% said they felt the scheme was not well publicised.

The programme was due to start in July but officials pushed the start date back to September after concerns were raised about privacy.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “The coronavirus crisis has thrown into sharp relief the opportunity for health data to be used in ways that benefit patients and society in general – however, it’s really important to engage the public effectively on how their data is going to be used and the governance of data sharing with third parties.

“NHS Digital and the Government are right to delay implementation of the GPDPR scheme and must now go to greater lengths to engage the public, raise awareness of the scheme, and increase people’s understanding of it through better communication and transparency.”

An NHS Digital spokesperson said: “Data is already being collected from GPs and has previously been used to better understand and develop cures for all types of serious illnesses and plan the most effective services for the NHS. During the pandemic it has been used to support the vaccine roll out and develop lifesaving treatments for coronavirus.

“We know we need to take people with us on this mission which is why we have committed to putting even tougher protections and safeguards in place and stepping up communications through a public information campaign before the new programme begins.

“Data is only shared where there is a clear benefit to healthcare planning and research, this benefits all of us, but it is only as good as the data it is based upon which is why it is absolutely vital that people make an informed decision about whether to share their data.”

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