What is it and when is it happening?
The General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) system aims to centralise and collate the last 10 years’ worth of patient records from GP surgeries into a mega-database managed by NHS Digital. From then on it will be updated in near ‘real-time’.
In 2021, people might assume that any medical professional should be able to access your records (with the right security credentials) to help the NHS function more efficiently and save patients repeating their story. Hospital data is already collected in this way and supporters of the proposal point out that this is a logical extension to create consistency and add the invaluable data from our GP visits. This initiative to find patterns that could reveal new treatments and improvements to the nation’s health, offers much to admire. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the GP network in supporting the most vulnerable, rolling out the vaccine programme and sharing the load with hospitals so they don’t become overwhelmed.
The anonymised personal information at the heart of this plan includes details on patients’ physical, mental and sexual health, diagnoses, symptoms, test results, medication and immunisations. It will also include data on sex, ethnicity and sexual orientation. They worry that a pandora’s box of negative stories will develop with these ‘exceptions’ as the catalyst.
But critics point out that approved third parties, such as researchers at universities, charities or private companies, will be able to access the data under certain circumstances and believe the small print needs greater scrutiny.
The plan was launched in May 2021 with the intention of gaining public approval for implementation by July 2021. Concerns that not enough is known about it and worries about patient privacy and confidentiality have now pushed that back to 1st September 2021.