NHS England has commissioned a programme of work called care.data, on behalf of the NHS, Public Health and Social care Services which aims to ensure that high quality information is used appropriately to improve patient care.
The new system will provide joined-up information about the care received from all of the different parts of the health service, including hospitals and GP practices and will be used to gain a complete picture of what is happening across health and social care and to plan services according to what works best. This information may also be shared with approved researchers and organisations outside the NHS if this will benefit patient care.
Confidential information including your date or birth, gender, postcode and NHS number will be extracted from GP systems and records are linked in a secure system managed by the Health and Social Care Information centre (HSCIC) so your identity is protected. Details that could identify you will be removed before your information is made available to others, such as those planning NHS services and approved researchers.
The extraction of data was originally scheduled to begin in March 2014 but the programme start data has now been deferred to the autumn to allow more time for public consultation. A leaflet providing details of the care.data programme including the choices you have to control how your data is used and shared was sent to every household in London between 27 and 31st January 2014.
If you are happy for your information to be used then you do not need to do anything. But if you have concerns or if you do not want information that identifies you from being shared outside your GP practice, as described here, inform a member of staff at your practice. They will make a note of this in your medical record. This will prevent your information being used other than where necessary by law, such as in case of a public health emergency.
NHS England has commissioned a helpline so that patients and the public will be able to further advice and support about the care.data programme. The number to call is 0300 456 3531. For further information please download the care.data patient leaflet and FAQs or visit NHS Choices or NHS England websites.