Public ‘unaware of NHS data plans’

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

NHS England has been criticised for not taking appropriate steps to inform the public of changes to medical records.  The scheme is intended to link data from GP records with information from hospitals to give an idea of what happens to patients throughout their treatment.  This will be the first time the NHS in England is collecting data on patient care by GPs.

A poll by ICM Research has revealed that only 29% of 860 adults polled recall receiving a leaflet from NHS England explaining changes to medical records.  The leaflet, explaining the scheme and how to opt out, should have been sent to 26.5 million households in January.  According to the poll, approximately 45% of people remain unaware of the changes.

Commenting on the lack of awareness, GP Dr Neil Batia said “the low numbers receiving a leaflet confirm the suspicions of very many GPs, including myself, that NHS England’s public information programme has been an absolute shambles.”

NHS England has confirmed that the leaflet campaign is not the only method they are using to inform individuals of the change.  Dr Geraint Lewis, NHS England’s chief data officer added “We are hearing that certain patients have not received the leaflets, so we’re working very closely with the Royal Mail.”  He added that he was pleased to hear that over half of those polled were aware of the changes.

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