GP exposes bullying tactics behind scheme

3797160719_337b4742e7_bAs NHS England remains adamant to push through the scheme despite concerns not being properly addressed, it was only a matter of time before GP’s started to publicly speak about. Unsurprisingly this has not gone down well with NHS England.

A GP in Oxford has accused the NHS of using ‘blatantly bullying’ tactics to ‘bulldoze’ doctors and patients into complying with the scheme. The government has made several statements about the fact that GP’s are responsible for their patients’ data, yet it now appears that they are being told that they aren’t able to act when they have genuine concerns.

Dr Gancz has revealed that he received a ‘threatening’ email from Thames Valley NHS England warning him that he would be ‘in breach of his contract’ if he did not automatically opt his patients in to the scheme. He said it also contained the ‘Big Brother-ish’ demand that he remove a statement on his surgery’s website which warned patients that he was ‘concerned’ about the scheme.

Dr Gancz has very clearly and reasonably explained his position that although medical research is important “patients should positively want to release their information”. He is concerned that many of his patients aren’t aware of the scheme and as a result won’t have the opportunity to opt out.

The health watchdog, Healthwatch England, agrees with their chairman, Anna Bradley, describing the scheme as yet another example of where the NHS decides that it knows best whilst ploughing ahead whether GP’s and patients like it or not.

Bradley has reinforced our own concerns that a leaflet drop is a wholly inadequate way of informing patients about significant changes to the way their medical records are used. She said: “the communications around this have been so poor that we are now in the situation where all of us are about to be automatically opted in to a scheme we know little or nothing about.

Dawn Monaghan, of the Information Commissioner’s office, also said she had concerns: “At the moment, we don’t think it is clear enough on the website or in the information that has been sent out exactly what data is going to go and what is not going to go.”

Our original concerns remain. If the NHS wants to share patients’ information with increasing amounts of third parties it is arguable that they have a duty to take extra steps to ensure that patients feel as though they have control. The Department for Health must stand by the Governments commitment to give patients more control over their medical records and recognise that this leaflet drop is wholly unacceptable.

The Government must urgently clarify that no GP’s will face criminal or civil action for taking steps to remove their patients from the scheme.

See our ‘take action’ guide on how to opt-out of the system.

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in NHS | 14 Comments


  1. John
    5th February 2014

    They really don’t want people to opt out of this I think.

    1) I didn’t get a letter, but some unaddressed leaflets were stuffed through the door of the flats where I live.

    2) The only way I can get off the register is to attend my doctors surgery. In Person. No email,web or phone line options available, to way to reply to the leaflet. I have to go to the bloody doctors.

    3) As it happens I was at the Doctors any way. When I asked to opt out the receptionist looked at me with that kind of blank, goldfish like expression that so many NHS employees have and said she knew nothing about it. So I produced the leaflet. I was then queried why I wanted to drop out. “Actually that is not your concern”

    4) So even the Doctors can’t cancel it at the surgery. I have to fill out a f**king form to do it and return it to them

    Needless to say all of this made me so annoyed that I became even more grimly determined to opt out. But I bet in the end less than a few hundred people across the country do it.

    Apathy will win – the rest of you are welcome to hand it over to them without a fight. I’m not.

  2. Anon
    6th February 2014

    I opted out long before the leaflet arrived and thanks to I knew to give my GP surgery TWO codes to opt out. One is for preventing your data leaving your GP surgery and the other is to prevent your data leaving the HSCIC. You need to opt out of both if you don’t want your data being shared with organisations, institutions, researchers and any others who happen to get the go ahead to rummage around in your most private data.

    Well done to Dr Gancz for standing up for his patients. Pity that more GPs don’t.

  3. Simon
    6th February 2014

    Thanks for the useful info John and Anon. The disingenuous official spiel and the barriers put in front of opting-out makes me even more determined to opt-out. It is also the most convincing argument against opting-out itself being played out before our eyes. Just think what it would be like if they managed to introduce opt-out organ donorship?

    I don’t think we’ve had any leaflets whatsoever about I was wondering whether I should write a letter like my last opt-out to be ‘put on my file’ or wait until we get the leaflets. I didn’t know about any forms being needed to be filled out. My impression up until now was that a letter would suffice.

    • Anon
      7th February 2014

      Simon, I would not wait until you receive the leaflet. It is not worth the wait.

      There are draft opt-out letters available from this site and these provide the two codes required. If you write to your surgery asking that the codes be applied to your records then you have a record of opting-out. It is not that I don’t trust them, well actually it is that I don’t trust them so always like to keep a copy.

  4. gareth
    7th February 2014

    Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, was quoted on the BBC as saying “Can I be categorical? No one who uses this data will know who you are”.


    If you look at the HSCIC website you can find their data price list, which includes “Standard extract – containing personal confidential data” for £2,782. It also lists “Patient status and/or tracking” as a “Product”.

    My local health centre were happy to accept my opt-out by e-mail.

    • Anon
      10th February 2014

      TK must be lying.

  5. Amasis
    7th February 2014

    Information about Care Data, the process, a comprehensive flowchart illustrating the flow of information, and links to downloadable template letters and forms to opt out. Site is written by Dr Neil Bhatia, a G.P. in Hampshire. I have no connection, there’s no commercial stuff there, and it doesn’t set cookies.


  6. Anonymous
    8th February 2014

    I thought GPs were threatening to all go on strike over this issue? Is this still the case? It would be a Cameron ender, that’s for sure.

  7. Anon
    10th February 2014

    This PDF from the ICO clearly demonstrates that identifiable data can be shared.


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  9. Anon
    11th February 2014

    If the commentators here bothered to find out the true facts rather than reading the Daily Mail they would not be making such inane comments.

  10. arthur hayes
    18th February 2014

    Thanks for the information.didn’t know about needing to code your opt out!

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