Exclusive The NHS has so far wasted spent £5m on the controversial Care.data scheme, which has been hit by a series of delays due to a public outcry over plans to share personal medical info with world+dog, El Reg can reveal.
According to a Freedom of Information response, NHS England spent £2.5m each in 2013/14 and 2014/15, with millions more in spending expected for the delay-ridden scheme.
The Care.data system was supposed to begin in spring 2014 but was paused after objections about the NHS's failure to properly consult on the programme.
So far, 700,000 individuals have requested to opt out of having their data shared with third parties. However, concerns have been raised that the Health and Social Care Information Centre has been unable to implement those objections. Baroness Ludford, Liberal Democrat, has called on the Information Commissioner to investigate "this worrying situation".
Data gathering from the scheme's much scaled-back pilot programme will now begin in autumn this year.
Malcolm Grant, Chair of the NHS Commissioning Board, told the NHS England Board last week: "This is a programme in which we have invested a great deal of time and thought in developing. We would only do this if we thought it was critical for patients."
He added: "The issue is how do we sensitively attune to issues around patient data confidentiality."
In February 2014, the programme agreed to a phased implementation between 100 and 500 GP practices across up to four Clinical Commissioning Group areas in its 'pathfinder stage'.
However, the three Leeds CCGs have not been added back into the pathfinder schedule after previously stepping back from the process. A spokeswoman said Leeds is still involved in the programme.
Privacy group medConfidential has also raised concerns over the directions governing the pathfinder programme which do not explicitly state that data may be used for research by ‘non-DH’ bodies.
A spokesman from NHS England said the body would reply to medConfidential in due course.
In February it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of NHS patients who opted out of having their details shared with private companies under the Care.data scheme would not be invited to a number of cancer-related screening. ®