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GP practices required to apply data opt-out programme by 2020

NHS Digital's National Data Opt-Out Programme lets patients choose whether confidential information about their treatment can be used for research and planning.


A key part of NHS Digital’s implementation work for this project has been asking GP practices to ensure they are providing up-to-date information to patients about the choices available to them about how their data is used. The deadline for completing this has now been confirmed as March 2020.

Created in line with recommendations made by the National Data Guardian Dame Fiona Caldicott, the programme replaces type 2 opt outs. GP practices must no longer use the type 2 opt out code to record a patient's opt-out choice, which were previously added to patient records to prevent NHS Digital sharing confidential patient information for research and planning.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Patient data collected in general practice is an incredibly rich source of intelligence that can inform high-quality medical research, and help with planning NHS services.

“But patients must be comfortable with their data being used in this way, and confident that it will be used appropriately. GPs and our teams take the use of patient data very seriously – we hope the National Data Opt-Out will reassure patients that their data is safe, and strengthen the unique GP-patient relationship.”

By March 2020, all health and care organisations will be required to apply national data opt-outs where confidential patient information is used for research and planning purposes.


Primary care website providers MSW
 have worked with NHS Digital to help ensure practices have access to the latest information on the National Data Opt-Out Programme to share with patients. Click here to learn more about MSW websites.


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