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Information for GP practices


The national data opt-out has replaced type 2 opt-outs. GP practices must no longer use the type 2 opt-out code to record a patient's opt-out choice as it is no longer collected and processed.

Type 2 opt-outs were managed by the patient’s GP practice making a coded entry in the patient record at the GP practice and were collected by NHS Digital so that we would know not to share confidential patient information for research and planning. Type 2 opt-outs recorded on or before 11 October 2018 were converted to national data opt-outs.

Supporting patients - resources and guidance

We have provided resources for practice staff to share with patients if they have any questions. Staff should make sure they are aware of the national data opt-out so they can support their patients.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has published a Patient Data Choices toolkit for GPs and practice staff, and training materials in their  RCGP e-learning module.

When patients ask about opting out:

  • refer them to the website
  • it's helpful to make sure that they know their NHS number
  • ensure they have an up-to-date email address or mobile phone number in their GP practice record, as this will be used to verify their identity when they use the service

Changes to policy and procedure

GP practices must amend policies and procedures, and patient information to make sure that they are up to date, and that all staff know they must no longer record type 2 opt-outs on a patient’s medical record. Instead, they should refer patients to

We are working with the clinical system suppliers around de-activation of the codes. 

View our GP checklist for a reminder of other actions to take.

Patients who previously had a type 2 opt-out

Where a patient had a type 2 opt-out registered on or before 11 October 2018, this was automatically converted to a national data opt-out and if they were aged 13 or over they were sent a personal letter explaining the change and a handout with more information about the national data opt-out.

Patients can be reassured that their choices will continue to be respected. If they want to change their choice, they can use the national data opt-out service to do this.

Patients who have a type 1 opt-out

Some patients will have a type 1 opt-out registered with their GP practice, which indicates they do not want their confidential patient information leaving the practice for research and planning purposes. These existing type 1 opt-outs will continue to be respected until 2020, when the Department of Health and Social Care will consult with the National Data Guardian on their removal. GP practices can continue to record and apply a patient’s type 1 opt-out choice.

Information governance queries in general practice

The Data Protection Officer (DPO) or Practice Manager in your GP practice may have more information about local escalation processes relating to information governance (IG) queries from patients. 

Useful IG links

General IG queries:

Enquiries about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018):

Enquiries about the national data opt-out:

  • 0300 303 5678 – NHS Digital contact centre

Download a printable version of IG queries in general practice

Communication with GP practices

Letter sent to all GP practices in May 2018, with more details about the national data opt-out and the transition from type 2 opt-outs.

Letter sent to all GP practices in October 2018, as a reminder that type 2 opt-outs are no longer valid.

Last edited: 18 December 2018 4:06 pm