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MPS surveys of GPs and public reveal lack of information around care.data

Sixty-seven per cent of adults in England say they have not received the leaflet from NHS England explaining the new care. data system, and 45% do not understand care.data from what they have heard or read, according to a recent survey.

A YouGov survey commissioned by MPS asked more than 1,400 adults in England about care.data, which is a national database that will hold and analyse information from patients’ medical records with the aim of improving the quality of care.

Furthermore, a separate MPS survey of more than 600 GPs has revealed 77% do not think NHS England has given them enough information to properly inform patients about care.data, while 80% of GPs do not believe they have a good understanding of how patient data will be used in the care.data system.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, medicolegal adviser at MPS, said: “While we recognise that sharing information about patients could transform the way the NHS cares for and treats people, it is worrying that GPs feel that there is a lack of information for patients to make an informed decision about their personal data. This is a huge step in modernising health services, which most people will only find out about in a maildrop to households and that may get lost or discarded along with take-away menus and supermarket offers.

“There is no doubt that technology offers enormous opportunities in managing healthcare, but we do not want this to be at the cost of trust between the doctor and patient. Although the results tell us that half of patients are not concerned about their medical records leaving the GP practice, we worry that this is because, historically, patients have had confidence in their GP to look after their personal data. Some patients may see the scheme as an unwelcome intrusion into their personal lives which could irreversibly damage the relationship with their family doctor.”

As Practice Matters went to press NHS England announced that it planned to delay the collection of patient data into the care.data system.

Dr Bradshaw continued: “MPS is pleased to see that the launch of care.data is being postponed by six months, which will give NHS England the opportunity to address the concerns that have been raised. This roll back will enable NHS England to fully inform the public and GPs about this fundamental change to the use of personal data, which is hoped will transform our health services.”

To find out more information on the care.data system, visit the NHS England website: www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/tsd/care-data

News in brief

Regulation update

The Care Quality Commission has published A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of GP practices and GP out-of-hours services. It sets out the CQC’s early thinking on how they will monitor, inspect and regulate GP practices and GP out-of-hours services. The new approach will include the five key questions to be asked of services – are they safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.

Guidance

The Department for Work and Pensions has issued Getting the most out of the fit note: Guidance for GPs. It provides information on completing each section of the fit note (including the reassessment box, comments section and return to work tick boxes), and uses case studies to illustrate different situations.

Legal update

The Defamation Act 2013 came into force on 1 January 2014 and the Ministry of Justice has published guidance on Section 5 of the Act – Complaints about defamatory material posted on websites: Guidance on Section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 and Regulations. Section 5 of the Act creates a new defence to an action for defamation brought against the operator of a website hosting usergenerated content, where the action is brought in respect of a statement posted on the website.

Useful links

The House of Commons Library has produced an information note on Child protection: Duties to report concerns. It provides information on the duties on those who come into contact with children as part of their professional lives to report suspected abuse or neglect of children. It also highlights recent calls for a mandatory duty to report suspected abuse or neglect.

Experts call on GPs to rethink age-related hearing loss

A panel of audiology and primary care experts are calling on GPs to rethink how they manage age-related hearing loss (ARHL).

The experts argue traditional clinical settings may compound stigma, creating barriers to engagement with services. In a new report authors contend that use of high quality, comprehensive NHS hearing care within local, ‘non-clinical’ settings for appropriate patients helps reduce stigma and improve outcomes.

Hear and Now – Why GPs need to rethink age-related hearing loss highlights the benefits of early intervention, calling for attendance at a local community based audiology service, and for ARHL to be regarded in the same way as a trip to the opticians or a check-up at the dentist.

“A local audiology setting may increase the person’s feeling of control and autonomy, which are central to self-efficacy and empowerment models of health promotion. Health promotion should be democratic, needs driven, and about taking control and enhancing decision-making,” said Dr Stuart McClean, Medical Anthropologist, University of the West of England.

The report includes a hearing loss checklist for GPs and routine health checks.

For more information visit: www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing-loss-report

Events

Practice notes

A practice manager contacted Practice Matters with this tale:

Recently a complaint from a patient regarding confidentiality went to the ombudsman and was upheld. The patient was an ex-police officer. He complained because a receptionist had asked for his address at the reception desk. His complaint was that the receptionist should not be asking for addresses at the reception desk as this could be overheard by another patient. He believed this had led to his house being burgled. The ombudsman agreed with him.

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