A brief Early August update – things not to read on the beach

Question: Did NHS England contact CCGs inviting them to become care.data pathfinders?

It seems all of the NHS England press office are relaxing under a tree, as they wont answer that question. In two other care.data articles also published yesterday, Pulse reports the ICO’s view that responsiblities are “good customer service” and that doctors are getting closer to opting their patients out.

A quote from a GP in that last article says, “opt outs in her surgery currently stood at 20%”, which is a significant amount of the population in that area, when at best only 50% will likely have heard of it. Tim Kelsey may argue “there is no percentage at which this becomes useful or not”, yet the statisticians may begin to have views as more figures are revealed. We’ve previously posted some thoughts on how NHS England can choose to empower GPs and also allow consensual research. Maybe NHS England can read that on their holidays, while figuring out how to be very clear and transparent with everyone on what they’re doing. Secrecy and confusion benefits no one.

The current level of confusion is highlighted by one GP who says patients initially think it a “good idea if the emergency doctors knew about their medical conditions.”. That of course, is unrelated to of care.data, which has no direct care applications at all, but a feature of an entirely different scheme, with a different set of problems and consent questions, the Summary Care Record (as it was known before being rebranded due to it being “toxic”). We can see why even GPs get confused though.

As NHS England recommunicates with GPs, hopefully they wont continue to cross-sell the benefits of other programmes as benefits of care.data. NHS England have no excuse for confusion remaining, as they near the end of the 6 month pause that was supposedly to solve all the problems


As everyone’s on holiday, there are a number of open consultations at the moment that may be of interest:

  1. Department of Health on Accredited Safe Havens. We’ve posted our outline replacement proposal here before, and will post a fuller submission when it’s completed. Deadline, this Friday
  2. HSCIC Confidentiality Code of Practice. The long awaited HSCIC Confidentiality Code of Practice is out for consultation. Deadline: Next week
  3. And a new one, which isn’t so much of a formal consultation as asking a bunch of people who have shown some interest, is on the new HSCIC contracts and agreements for data sharing, including rules for sub-licensing. We’ll have quite a lot of questions about these. If you yourself have any comments on either the drafts or documents, the HSCIC would like to receive your comments by August 29th, marked FAO Simon Gray via <enquiries@hscic.gov.uk>.

Job hunting?

The Department of Health is recruiting 3 lay members, at a day a month, for the “National Information Board”, which was set up in January to try and fix the trainwreck that DH saw coming. This is an important panel with oversight of both DH and NHS England’s overlapping remits and strategies.

[this para added later]: The academicly funded “Administrative Data Research network” is looking for a member of the public willing to give over a day a month, for free, reviewing their applications. The commitment includes relevant reading time, plus a video conference a month, with 4 in person meetings a year. Details now appear here (their website was broken, so here’s the word document they mailed to their existing lists).

NHS England is also trying to hire someone to be Senior Responsible Owner for Care.data, having failed to find an internal candidate — we can’t imagine why. If you’re interested, we put together a list of questions that you may wish to ask at inteview. Apparently the risk that they may have to answer them in a binding way has caused some furrowed brows, as an interview board misleading candidates is considered bad form.

I can’t imagine why.