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People unaware of NHS data plans

17th February 2014
A minority of adults saw the leaflet explaining changes to medical records, suggests a poll for BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

Data (2)The NHS in England is set to go paperless by 2015 and collate all of its data onto an online database.

A leaflet explaining the move, and how to opt out, should have been delivered to all UK households in January.

Only 29% of 860 adults polled by ICM Research recalled getting one. According to the poll, about 45% of people remain unaware of the changes.

The data is already collected but NHS England says extending the initiative to GPs means it will be possible to gather a fuller picture.

Critics worry that despite strong safeguards to protect peoples privacy, there is still a very small possibility for individuals to be identified and therefore break the pledge of anonymity. Furthermore, due to the lack of knowledge of this change, Patients group HealthWatch has called for a pause to the programme while patient concerns are addressed.

NHS England said that this was not their only method for informing people but will look into why so many people reported not receiving them.

Prof Nigel Mather, of the Royal College of GPs, which supports the scheme, said it reinforced the view that "more effort" was required to increase awareness.


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