GP data could be included in the future Federated Data Platform, Secretary of State for Health Victoria Atkins has said. 

In remarks last week to the Times Health Summit, reported in, the health secretary responded to a question about whether GPs would be linked with hospitals on the FDP by saying: “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, she said, according to the report. “But we need to do that and bring everybody with us.” 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman declined to elaborate on Atkins’ published comments. 

A page on the NHS England website, last updated on 20 November 2023 explicitly said that the FDP “will not include information from GP surgeries.”  

Commenting on Atkins’ comments, Professor Sam Shah, chief medical strategy officer at men’s health and wellness company numan, and a lawyer and member of the Silver Buck Advisory Board, said: “The relationship between primary care and the centre of the NHS is a complex one, mainly because the vast majority of GP, dental, pharmacy and optometry is delivered by independent providers who are data controllers in their own right.”  

Although he acknowledged that bringing GP data into the FDP could create a more sensible single data layer across the NHS, he added that doing so was more complex than it seemed. 

“Firstly, the challenges with the NHS mean that some patients now access a range of self-pay, private, and insurance funded services alongside seeing their NHS GP. It would seem to be somewhat limited if it was only NHS GP data that was included. It also seems to ignore the rest of primary care outside of GP, which again seems odd if there is a real belief in the whole primary care team, ie dental, pharmacy and optometry.”

He also noted that regardless of what body is responsible for sharing the data, there is as yet little recognition of the funding and investment needed to “resolve the issue of data quality, variability and formats – this is going to be a mammoth task for which there doesn’t seen to be any investment”.