NHS England has some sneaky plans for Care.data acceleration

Speeding up the hated scheme before the next election

Crop of doctor with pen and clipboard

Despite promises to pause the hated Care.data scheme, El Reg has discovered that the architect of the plans, NHS England's National Director for Patients and Information Tim Kelsey, plans to gear up the pilot programme before the next election.

Labour MP Roger Godsiff told El Reg that Kelsey had informed him of the plans to "communicate with patients" about the programme before the election.

This move amounts to ramping up the scheme in the hundreds of "pathfinder practices", as writing to patients about the programme's next steps is the final stage before data extraction begins.

Care.data was supposed to begin in spring 2014, but has been subject to a series of delays following a public outcry regarding the NHS's failure to properly consult on the programme.

Godsiff added: "What is the desperate urgency? They can't give a reason as to why they want to go forward with it so desperately."

"Kelsey said he wants to press on with it before the election, although he said no data would be extracted from the programme before then," said Godsiff.

Phil Booth, from campaign group Med Confidential, confirmed that Kelsey has separately informed several individuals of his intention to communicate with patients before the next election.

In January El Reg revealed that hundreds of thousands of NHS patients who opted out of having their details shared with private companies under the controversial Care.data scheme would not be invited to a number of cancer-related screenings.

El Reg contacted NHS England on Tuesday to confirm whether it planned to communicate with patients before the election in May. We are still awaiting a response. ®

Update

A spokeswoman at NHS England finally got in touch on Saturday – a day after this story was published – with this response:

"We will not be contacting patients about the care.data programme before the General Election."

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