IT error caused sharing of 150,000 NHS patients’ data against their will

Written by Sam Trendall on 5 July 2018 in News
News

Parliamentary statement reveals that problem with SystmOne application used by GPs meant individuals opt-out choices were not respected

A “coding error” in a software system used by GPs led NHS Digital to share the data of 150,000 patients against their will.

A written parliamentary statement from minister for mental health Jackie Doyle-Price reveals that the data was passed on as a result of a “defect” in the SystmOne clinical records system developed by UK IT company TPP and used by thousands of GPs across the country. The problem affected information concerning patients’ choice to opt out of having their confidential data shared for non-care-related purposes, such as research.

For more than three years up to June 2018, data on these opt-outs was not properly sent from SystmOne to NHS Digital. This failure, in turn, led to NHS Digital not upholding these opt-outs in its use of patient data.

“Since being informed of the error by TPP, NHS Digital acted swiftly and it has now been rectified,” said Doyle-Price. “NHS Digital made the Department of Health and Social Care aware of the error on 28 June. NHS Digital manages the contract for GP Systems of Choice on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.”


Related content


She added: “TPP has apologised unreservedly for its role in this matter and has committed to work with NHS Digital so that errors of this nature do not occur again. This will ensure that patients’ wishes on how their data is used are always respected and acted upon.”

Doyle-Price said that there “has never been, any risk to patient care as a result of this error”. Nonetheless, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the National Data Guardian for Health and Care have been informed. It is understood that the ICO is investigating the matter.

About 150,000 patients who registered an opt-out – known as a type 2 objection – have been affected by the error.

Nic Fox, director of primary and social care technology at NHS Digital, said that while “the problem has been resolved for any future data disseminations”, affected patients would be contacted presently.

“This issue would not be able to occur using the new national data opt-out, which has been recently introduced and puts the individual in direct control of their data-sharing preferences,” he added. “Data-sharing preferences can now be registered via a simple to use website or by phone or paper form, with the information going directly to NHS Digital, rather than being recorded by a GP on a third-party system.” 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Met Police gang database in ‘serious’ breach of data-protection laws, ICO finds
16 November 2018

After being hit with enforcement notice, the London force is working with the regulator to improve its practices

Government to build £1m digital tool to help crack down on prison gangs
16 November 2018

‘Digital categorisation service’ that will identify high-threat prisoners is a ministerial priority

Geospatial Commission’s first tranche of investment commits £5m to opening up government data
8 October 2018

Newly created government entity begins two-year remit with funding dedicated to release location data held by six public agencies 

Leeds launches pilot for NHS service providing ubiquitous access to patients’ GP records
1 October 2018

West Yorkshire conurbation becomes first city to go live on GP Connect, which aims to provide access clinicians across different care settings with access to records

Related Sponsored Articles

Make security integral to your business
5 November 2018

BT knows that digital security isn't just about technology. It's about the partnerships, intelligence and expertise you need to stay one step ahead in the security race.

The Driving Forces Behind the Modern Workplace Revolution
24 October 2018

 How can you ensure you get the best from your workplace transformation? Bear in mind these two key drivers, and you'll see the benefits of new technologies

GDPR already isn’t working
15 October 2018

The policies may be in place, but is it happening in practice? BT's Bas de Graaf looks at the reality of GDPR today