The government has taken the right decision to delay the creation of a central NHS digital database from GP records in England by two months, according to BCS.

The professional body for IT was amongst several organisations, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs, and the NHS itself, that raised concerns about its introduction on 1st July.

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Dr Bill Mitchell OBE, Director of Policy at BCS said:

“Ethical use of health data benefits the whole of society - but it is difficult to know precisely who will be doing what with these records and the process should be far easier to understand and more visible to the general public.

“Most of the millions of people affected will be unaware that this is happening, even if there will be benefits for all of us from the research that NHS Digital is facilitating.

Transparency over data share essential

Dr Michell added: “There must be a robust mechanism for us to check what’s actually going on with our data and we must be told very clearly whenever there are significant changes to how our data is shared.”

The date has now been pushed back to 1 September. BCS has already questioned the lack of a public information campaign by NHS Digital, or letters sent to individuals explaining how their data would be used. BCS said this approach would erode public and professional trust in digital aspects of the health service.