15 April 2018

GP Patient Data Must Not Be Treated Like The Yellow Pages, Demands College

Responding to the Health Select Committee's report into the Memorandum of Understanding on data-sharing between NHS Digital and the Home Office, published today [Sunday 15 April], Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"The Home Office is displaying a blatant disregard for the trusted and vital GP-patient relationship, and its casual approach to confidential patient data risks alienating highly vulnerable patients.

"It is treating GP patient data like the Yellow Pages, and we are calling on NHS Digital to take urgent measures to suspend the agreement that is allowing them to do so.

"The scale of the examples we're hearing about are becoming increasingly alarming – and if all are true, paint a terrible picture. We fully agree with the Health Select Committee that any harm being inadvertently caused must be quantified, explicitly discussed and rigorously evaluated before any data sharing agreement can continue.

"Data can be incredibly useful for medical research and planning purposes and healthcare professionals can inspire trust in our patients about how it is used. But we need to be reassured that the data we are guardians of – NHS patient records – will be used morally, safely and responsibly."

Further Information
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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.