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NHS app to let patients manage data sharing preferences

NHS patients in England will be able to manage how the data held about them by their GP is shared via the new NHS app due to launch later this year.04 Jul 2018

The new app will also enable patients to make GP appointments and order repeat prescriptions, as well as state their preferences on organ donation and end-of-life care.

The Department of Health also said patients will be able to manage long-term conditions and access the 111 service online for "urgent medical queries" via the app.

The department publicised the new app ahead of the 70th anniversary of the NHS on 5 July. The free app is scheduled to be available to everyone in England from December.

"What remains to be seen is whether the new app will win the support of the public and more importantly of patients," said Helen Cline, an expert in life sciences at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. "Trust will be critical. Only this week the government admitted that the data preferences of some NHS patients had not been recorded correctly due to a GP system supplier coding error."

"The app will go some way to simplifying the opt-out process and put patients more in control. It is important, however, that the app is rigorously evaluated during the beta testing phase, due to start in September, to gain public trust and to demonstrate that the system is cybercrime-ready and equipped to minimise any risks to patients’ health data," she said.

The health and social care secretary in England, Jeremy Hunt, said: "The NHS app is a world-first which will put patients firmly in the driving seat and revolutionise the way we access health services. I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients."

"Technology has transformed everyday life when it comes to banking, travel and shopping. Health matters much more to all of us, and the prize of that same digital revolution in healthcare isn’t just convenience but lives improved, extended and saved… It's time to catch up and unleash the power of technology to transform everyday life for patients," he said.