Information for GP practices

Summary

The national data opt-out replaces type 2 opt outs. GP practices will no longer use the type 2 opt out code to record a patient's opt out choice.

Type 2 opt-outs are those opt-outs recorded on the patient record to prevent NHS Digital sharing confidential patient information for research and planning. These were managed by the patient’s GP practice making a coded entry into the patients record. Existing type 2 opt-outs will be converted into the national data opt-out. 

Supporting patients - resources and guidance

We have provided resources for staff to share with patients if they have any questions. Staff should make sure they are aware of the new 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. 

For more information on the Patient Data Choices you can complete the RCGP e-learning module.

When patients ask about opting out:

  • refer them to the website nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters
  • make sure that they know their NHS number and 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

Patients who already have a type 2 opt-out

Where patients already have a type 2 opt out registered, this has automatically been converted to a 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 new service to do this.

Every patient who is now aged 13 or over with a type 2 opt-out recorded before 25 May 2018 will have received a personal letter explaining the change. The letters were issued after 29 May 2018 and included a handout which explains more about the national data opt-out. The letter asked patients to contact the dedicated helpline if they have any questions.

Patients who have a type 1 opt-out

Some patients will have a type 1 opt-out registered with their GP practice, which prevents 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 should continue to record patient choices and apply type 1 opt-outs.

Changes to policy and procedure

GP practices should amend policies and procedures, and patient information, to make sure that they are up to date, and that all staff know they should no longer record type 2 opt-outs on a patient’s medical records. GP practices will still be able to set a type 2 opt-out if requested but NHS Digital will convert these to the national data opt-out. We will retire the type 2 codes for general practice from early October 2018. View our GP checklist for a full list of tasks to prepare for the national data opt-out.

Communication with GP practices

We have sent a letter to all GP practices with more details about the national data opt out and type 2 opt outs.