Success for NPC campaign as NHS Digital announces GP ‘data grab’ delay

The first session of the NPC Annual Convention finished on a high today (8 June) with welcome news of a delay to NHS Digital’s controversial plans to extract all files from GPs in England.

The National Pensioners’ Convention has been campaigning with a coalition, led by tech justice watchdog Foxglove to halt the hurried ‘grab’ of our health data by July 1 without full consultation.

However, Health Minister Jo Churchill announced in the House of Commons at lunchtime that implementation of the ‘GP data programme’ would be pushed back to the beginning of September. She said ministers would use the extra time to "talk to doctors, patients and charities to strengthen the plan... and ensure data is accessed securely."

Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary commented: “While this is a great start to our month of NPC Annual Convention webinars, we give the news of the government delay to their GP data programme a cautious welcome.

“Along with our partners, we will take the opportunity to watch carefully what happens over the next two months. Given the government’s lack of transparency so far on this mammoth data phishing exercise, we will be scrutinising carefully what they do next in terms of truly consulting with us all on what happens to our very personal health records.”

This morning, human rights lawyers Cori Crider and Rosa Curling of Foxglove told the NPC Annual Convention opening Rally that our personal health records could be worth as much as £10billion to private enterprise. Despite NHS Digital’s assurances that the information would be coded and ‘pseudonymous’ there are genuine concerns that this would be easy to unlock and share with private enterprise, including US pharma companies.

The NPC joined forces to stop the data grab with a non-profit coalition including Foxglove, Just Treatment, Doctors’ Association UK, all the Citizens, openDemocracy, and David Davis MP. Wed sent a legal letter to the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS Digital, warning that unless the government pause the GP data extraction, and seek meaningful patient consent, the group would seek an injunction to halt the scheme.