Atos to manage GP data extraction

IT services provider Atos will manage the extraction of healthcare data from GP records as part of the controversial scheme

IT services provider Atos will manage the extraction of healthcare data from GP records as part of the controversial scheme.

The scheme proposes to upload all patient records from GP surgeries and hospitals into a central database, to be used for medical research by the NHS and private companies.

According to the NHS, data will be anonymised – making it impossible to track data back to individuals – but patients will be given the choice to opt out of the scheme.

MPs on the health committee were told that Atos has been chosen to extract the data.

The scheme  has been delayed by six months to “allow more time to build understanding of the benefits of using the information, what safeguards are in place, and how people can opt out,” said NHS England. The move came after the Royal College of General Practitioners (RGCP), the British Medical Association (BMA) and Healthwatch called for improved public awareness of the implications of the plan.

The idea behind the system is to send data from GP surgeries in England to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) as anonymous and pseudonymised data to be used for research purposes only.

Earlier this week it emerged that Atos Healthcare wants to end its disability testing contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) early as the contract enters its final 18 months.

Atos Healthcare tests disability benefits claimants to determine whether people are eligible. The company has been heavily criticised for the way it carries out tests by campaign groups and a government report in 2011 found that tens of thousands of sick and disabled people had been wrongly declared fit for work. Appeals against these decisions cost the taxpayer around £50m a year.



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