In a further victory for campaigners, NHS Digital has pledged to allow GP patients to opt out of any new data-sharing arrangements at any time.
The government agency is said to be planning to consult on a revised proposal with greater safeguards against inappropriate data sharing.
An NHS Digital spokesperson told The Observer: “We take our responsibility to safeguard data very seriously, and it will only ever be used by organisations that have a legal basis and legitimate need to use it for the benefit of health and care planning and research.
“We have listened to feedback on proposals and will continue working with patients, clinicians, researchers and charities to inform further safeguards, reduce the bureaucratic burden on GPs and step-up communications for GPs and the public ahead of implementing the programme.”
Booth noted that the process of building in safeguards before any relaunch of the scheme would need careful scrutiny, warning that there remained questions about “what’s going on behind closed doors right now in terms of people lobbying against those [concessions] or for particular exceptions to them”.
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