This site is intended for health professionals only

GP data could be included on controversial new federated platform, says health secretary

GP data could be included on controversial new federated platform, says health secretary
By Eliza Parr and Jess Hacker
8 February 2024

The health secretary has indicated that GP data could be included in the controversial federated data platform (FDP).

Discussing the FDP at the Times Health Summit today, Victoria Atkins said the Government ‘absolutely’ wants to ‘bring this together’, when asked whether GPs will be linked up with hospitals.

She also acknowledged that there will be concerns from GPs around data privacy.

The FDP, which aims to bring together operational and patient data from different NHS organisations to boost collaboration, will be rolled out from spring this year. 

US tech giant Palantir was awarded a seven-year contract worth £330m to deliver the FDP in November, which caused concern among doctors, including the BMA and the Doctors’ Association UK.

The NHS England website currently says GP data will not be included in the platform at a national level, and only in a local version where there is a data sharing agreement between the integrated care system (ICS) and GPs.

But today, Ms Atkins suggested GP data may be linked up with hospital data more widely.

In response to a question on whether GPs will be linked up with hospitals on the platform, she said: ‘The idea is that we want to absolutely bring this together, I’m very conscious […] there will be understandable concerns raised by some in general practice as to privacy and data security.

‘In this day and age we have to address those concerns head on, which by the way we’ve done, I think, with the FDP because we’re putting in that extra layer of checks and data security. But we need to do that and bring everybody with us.’

Speaking earlier in the conference, Lord Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London and Paul Hamlyn Chair of Surgery, touched on fears around data protection hampering digital advances in the NHS.

He called on the Government to find the right balance between fears around data privacy and making the most of technology.

Lord Darzi said he is ‘obviously worried about privacy and data sharing’ but added the health sector cannot afford to waste its access to AI companies based in the UK.

He said: ‘[Looking] at Deep Mind, for example, we had the fortune of working with them for a period of eight months and came up with an AI algorithm to help us in detecting early cancers and mammography because we had a long waiting list.’

He added: ‘We did that in a very secure environment, protecting data but the only way to succeed in winning the hearts and minds of the public was to have at least six members of the public who were routinely having mammography as part of the core study group. You have to engage the public.’

A version of this article appeared on our sister title, Pulse. Additional reporting by Jess Hacker.

Want news like this straight to your inbox?

Related articles