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Data opt-out rights could be changing

By Rob Muddiman on 20 Jul 2017

Following the Care Quality Commission’s new security standards imposed on General Practice last year, the government has set out new proposals to scrap the ‘type 1 opt-out’ rights for patient data. This currently gives patients the right to opt-out of having their confidential data shared outside of their GP practice for purposes beyond their direct care.  

A single national opt-out system is to be implemented from March 2018 following the national guardian data review into data protection and in response to a consultation of the current model.

The report published by the Department of Health says, opt-out options will be available for patients who do not want to share information from their GP practice to be passed onto NHS Digital, which will be applied across the health & social care system. The plans also include a system that should be in place by September 2019 to anonymise and extract data from GP practices. Patients will be invited to set their preferences online early next year, by 2020 an online service will be available for patients to analyse how their data captured by NHS Digital has been used.

The report also states that the government will adopt the recommendations from the Care Quality Commission in its review, Safe Data, Safe Care. The CQC will now also have to inspect GP practices on data handling, managing data and cyber security, this will be supported by the redesigned information governance toolkit.

In response to the government’s announcement Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

'Robust cyber-security and effective, safe data sharing between healthcare professionals are both imperative to ensure our patients receive the best possible care right across the NHS.

The cyber-attack in April was a wake-up call to many of us working in the health service about the fragility of the IT systems we are using, not just to keep our patients’ data safe, but to keep our surgeries functioning. Dame Fiona Caldicott put forward some excellent recommendations, including more investment and the need for suitable alert systems, in her report earlier this year, and we are encouraged that the DH plans to adopt these standards in full – and has already done so in some cases.'

‘GPs are some of the most trusted healthcare professionals in the NHS, and this trust must extend to the way in which we use information about our patients’ health – we are confident that the plans in this report, if implemented effectively, will be a positive step forward to ensuring this.’

At TPP we ensure all our Temporary Receptionists, Secretaries and Note Summarisers are fully aware of their duty to manage patient data safely, securely and responsibly. 

TPP Healthcare & Social are experts in recruiting for temporary and permanent support staff for General Practices. If you would like to discuss recruitment for NHS experienced Receptionists or Secretaries, please do get in touch on 020 7198 6080 or email healthcare@tpp.co.uk