NHS England slams "artificial" Care.data relaunch deadlines

Private and confidential

NHS England has declared it will not work to "artificial deadlines" for the rollout of its controversial patient data-sharing programme because it wants the scheme to be a success.

The aim of the Care.data project is to allow GPs to share anonymised patient information with hospitals, as well as researchers and private companies.

We do not subscribe to artificial deadlines here we will roll it out nationally when we are sure the process is right.

The rollout of the 50 million scheme was due to start in March 2014, but was postponed for six months because of concerns the public did not know enough about it.

However, Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information at NHS England, has cast further doubt on when the nationwide rollout of the scheme is likely to start.

In a blog post, published late last week, Kelsey said work on the much-maligned project could not be rushed, because of the number of parties that need to be consulted.

"Locally, stakeholders, including GPs, patients and public, health and care representatives, are taking part in debates and workshops to air their views and help ensure that, together, we get the approach absolutely right," he stated.

As a result, the pace of the Care.data deployment is likely to be slower than previously anticipated.

"We are now proposing to phase the implementation of Care.data and work with between 100 and 500 GP practices in the autumn to test, evaluate and refine the data collection process ahead of a national rollout," he wrote.

"We do not subscribe to artificial deadlines here we will roll it out nationally when we are sure the process is right."

Kelsey was also keen to stress the data protection measures that are being put in place to safeguard patient information shared via the scheme.

"All uses of the data will be subject to robust independent scrutiny and that no uses will be permitted that are not for the benefit of patients," the blog post continued.

"An organisation that wanted to handle the data on its own premises would need to demonstrate it could safely do so, or risk being barred from doing so.

"In all cases, there will be complete transparency of all those permitted access to this data by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and for what purpose," Kelsey concluded.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.