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Right, opt out everybody! Hated Care.data paused again

Is it time to put down this terminally ill scheme?

By Kat Hall, 8 Sep 2015

The UK government's gaffe-prone Care.data scheme has been paused once again, this time to review the opt-out process of the much-hated and delayed program.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked data guardian Fiona Caldicott to provide advice on the wording for patient consent and ‘opt-outs’.

The scheme was launched in 2013 but was delayed due to widespread fears over patients' information being shared with private sector organisations.

According to a Freedom of Information response sent to The Register, the programme has so far cost taxpayers £5m.

NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information Tim Kelsey said: "We recognise that patients have concerns about data safety and we will do everything we can to protect their information and build their trust."

"It is imperative we listen to the public and address all their concerns. Jeremy has stressed the importance of Care.data and we will continue to work with the pathfinder areas over the coming weeks and months," he said.

Last month a study from Cambridge University described the scheme as dysfunctional and undemocratic from its inception.

A spokesperson for Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, one of the four pilot areas to be running the scheme, said: “The purpose of the Care.data pathfinder pilot has always been to help NHS England with the testing and evaluation of patient literature and the process by which coded patient data might eventually be extracted from their GP medical records."

“Family doctors are as eager as patients to ensure that we get any process right and patients are provided with the necessary reassurance to know and understand that information from their medical records will continue to be kept safe, secure and confidential," it added. ®

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