Gaining public confidence in the controversial Care.data scheme may take longer than the six months currently set aside, according to an influential member of a group advising on the work.
NHS England announced last month that implementation of the information sharing scheme would be postponed for six months, following criticism from campaigners, professionals and politicians.
It also established a committee to lead engagement and advise on what to do next, which met for the first time last week.
One of its members, Jeremy Taylor, who is chief executive of the patient group umbrella body National Voices, told HSJ six months may not “be long enough” for the process.
Mr Taylor, speaking after the meeting, said: “My view, and I think it’s shared by others too, is that one of the things we might want to advise is that this process of getting things right should take as long as it needs to and not be constrained by some artificial time scale. Six months might not be long enough.”
It is unclear how an extension would affect the practical implementation of Care.data.
The advisory group is chaired by Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Ciaran Devane, who is also an NHS England non-executive director.
Asked about the timetable, he told HSJ the group’s work would take “as long as it will take”.
He said: “The advisory group could last longer than six months. If there is something else that someone decides they want our advice on, we’ll happily [continue our work].”
The group’s 20 members include officials such as NHS England director for patients and information Tim Kelsey, who is the Care.data senior responsible officer. They also include Healthwatch England chief executive Katherine Rake, journalist and doctor Ben Goldacre, King’s Fund chief economist John Appleby, as well as representatives of campaign groups MedConfidential and Big Brother Watch.
Mr Devane said that the group planned to hold four meetings around the country for interested parties to contribute to a “genuine engagement process”.
Meanwhile, a risk register published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre has detailed logistical complexities in the Care.data implementation.
The document, published ahead of a HSCIC board meeting on Wednesday, reveals the Care.data programme team currently has “insufficient resources” to implement it. More staff will be hired shortly, it says.
The risk register says future funding for the programme is not yet confirmed, but that discussions are due to begin soon.