From 1st September, NHS General Practitioners in England will be required to share patients’ primary care medical records with NHS Digital, who may then share it with others. The start date of the scheme has already been delayed, following widespread public concerns about its scope, nature and poor public transparency, however it will now go ahead from September.

NHS Digital say they will use your data for several purposes, including :

  • informing and developing health and social care policy
  • planning and commissioning health and care services
  • taking steps to protect public health (including managing and monitoring the coronavirus pandemic)
  • in exceptional circumstances, providing individuals with personalised care
  • enabling healthcare and scientific research

This data will include medical records for anyone who has not specifically opted-out of the scheme. Once the scheme starts, it is not possible to opt-out. However, it is possible to opt-out now and subsequently opt back in at a later date.

Individuals have the option to opt-out of this data sharing. There are two actions which can be taken :

  1. opt out of the sharing of your medical data beyond your GP practice, except for purposes related to your own care (also known as a “type 1 opt-out”)
  2. opt out of NHS Digital sharing your personally identifiable data with others except for your own care (also known as a “National Data Opt Out”)

The charity medConfidential have explained the scheme in depth. Parents of young children may opt-out on behalf of youngsters under 18 years old. 

As there is no means of opting-out of the scheme once it has started, we urge members to reflect on this proposed use of their personal medical data and consider opting-out before the scheme starts on 1st September.