Government lobbied over Data Protection Bill

Bodies are concerned about what the Bill in its current draft will mean to small healthcare providers


Organisations from across primary health care have issued a call to Government to stop the potential implementation of European Union data regulations that would lead to additional demands on High Street healthcare providers.

Labelling the regulations “flawed,” the bodies, which include the Optical Confederation (OC), the British Dental Association (BDA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, believe that, if introduced, the regulations would lead to “unnecessary additional burdens” on small health care providers.

The trio of organisations have stated that the Data Protection Bill, which is due to start in the House of Commons on 5 March, will “slap significant extra costs on small providers” as currently drafted.

In a joint letter, the groups call for the Minister for Digital and Culture, Margot James, to drop plans that require all NHS providers to appoint a data protection officer (DPO), which they feel goes “well beyond” the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

GDPR only requires a body to appoint a statutory DPO if it is a public authority, or if it processes certain categories of data, including healthcare data “on a large scale.”

Since it became clear that small practices could be forced to hire additional staff or buy additional services to fulfil this new requirement, health care leaders have been working closely to lobby for changes.

Having produced an analysis on the current Bill, the BDA estimate that the establishment and additional annual costs linked to this regulation could add another £2000-£3000 to the cost of becoming compliant for single-handed dentists, who present one in five of the NHS workforce.

Chair of the OC, Fiona Anderson, commented: “The new requirement would not provide any practical benefit for patients. And it would create a new and unnecessary regulatory burden and cost for optical practices. We therefore hope ministers will exempt primary care providers from these requirements.”