Government scraps flagship project

The controversial NHS patient information-sharing scheme has been scrapped, the government has confirmed.

In a statement, minister for life sciences George Freeman MP has said that “NHS England has taken the decision to close the programme”. He added that the Government remained “absolutely committed to the benefits of sharing information” to improve patient outcomes and that therefore work would now be taken forward by the National Information Board.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of the publication of National Data Guardian Dame Fiona Caldicott’s long-awaited report on NHS patient data security.

Mr Freeman said the decision had been taken because the report recommended that the Government consider the future of the programme ‘as the consent and opt-out model proposed by the review goes further than the approach that was planned for and its pathfinder areas’.

His statement read: “In light of Dame Fiona’s recommendations, NHS England has taken the decision to close the programme. However, the government and the health and care system remain absolutely committed to realising the benefits of sharing information, as an essential part of improving outcomes for patients.

“Therefore this work will now be taken forward by the National Information Board, in close collaboration with the primary care community, in order to retain public confidence and to drive better care for patients.”

The scheme to extract GP patient records, and then link them with information held by other parts of the NHS for non-care uses, was pulled on 18 February 2014, just days before it was due to go live in March.

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