Confidence in NHS England’s commitment to transparency and openness received another blow this morning as a full and frank explanation of yesterday's events by NHS IT Director Tim Kelsey made two more inaccurate and misleading statements about the care.data leafleting process.
Mr Kelsey was appearing on BBC’s Breakfast programme to answer questions about why NHS England were putting back care.data by a further six months.
Questioned about low awareness of the recent information leaflet, he first told interviewers that “ very large number of people do know what's going on". Yet recent polls suggest that 80% of GP’s do not feel sufficiently informed, and 67% of patients do not recall receiving a leaflet.
He then added: "We contracted with the royal mail to ensure that 100% of households received a leaflet."
According to a spokesperson for the Royal Mail, this is inaccurate on two counts. NHS England contracted with an intermediary company, who then sub-contracted the task to the Royal Mail.
More importantly households can opt out of receiving unaddressed mail. This means a doordrop of the kind undertaken on behalf of NHS England will only be delivered to 100% of households “in exceptional circumstances”.
The care.data information campaign was not one of them, the Royal Mail confirmed this morning.
They added that the opt-out at present covers only a very small proportion of households. Nonetheless, it was not delivered to 100% of households – unless the Royal Mail is operating a special scheme designed specifically to get round its own opt-out procedures.
We have asked NHS England to comment on the above, but so far have not heard back from them.
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