BMA votes for Care.data to be explicitly opt-in

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BMA votes for Care.data to be explicitly opt-in

Caroline Baldwin

The British Medical Association (BMA) has voiced its concerns that the Care.data programme should be explicitly opt-in when it is rolled out in the future.

During the BMA’s annual representative meeting (ARM 2014), the majority of attendees voted in favour of Care.data being an opt-in programme, rather the original opt-out model suggested by NHS England.

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One speaker who was encouraging attendees to vote for Care.data to be opt-in said “Care.data is very different from organ donation, this is about confidentiality.”

And another noted that doctors must listen to what patients want following the furor over the last six months. 

Meanwhile another speaker putting forward a motion that Care.data should be opt-out to ensure data isn’t skewed, said it would be better to fund the NHS by selling anonymised datasets, rather than taxing tabacco.

The controversies surrounding the plans came to a head in February when failure to explain the benefits to the general public forced the NHS to put the plans on hold for six months.

Before plans were put on hold, research by the BMA suggested that almost half of patients were unaware of the plans to use their confidential medical data in this way, despite the national campaign.

BMA GPs committee chairman Chaand Nagpaul said in February: “The BMA is deeply concerned about the government’s public information campaign for Care.data. With just weeks to go until the uploading of patient data is scheduled to begin, patients remain inadequately informed about these proposals.”

Later, NHS England admitted it had failed to explain the benefits of Care.data to patients.

Last month, NHS England announced it was abandoning its roll-out plan, saying it does not “subscribe to artificial deadlines.”

Instead, a trial with up to 500 GP practices will go ahead as planned before further decisions are made over future timescales.


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