New NHS patient data store delayed by two months

Hospital

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The creation of a central NHS digital database from GP records in England will be delayed by two months, the government has announced.

The system was due to begin on 1 July, but the date has now been pushed back to 1 September.

The NHS had been calling for a delay to allow patients more time to learn about the system.

The British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs had also expressed concern.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Health Minister Jo Churchill said the GP data programme would “save lives”.

However, she said the government was “absolutely determined to take people with us on this journey” and had therefore decided to push the implementation date back to the beginning of September.

She said ministers would use the extra time to “talk to doctors, patients and charities to strengthen the plan… and ensure data is accessed securely.”

“Patients own their own data,” she added.

Labour’s shadow health minister Alex Norris welcomed the delay but argued that the “current plans to take data from GPs, assemble it in one place and sell it to unknown commercial interests for purposes unknown has no legitimacy.”

He criticised the government for a lack of “public engagement” and said the plans had been “snuck out under the cover of darkness”.