NHS England has hit back the assertion by an independent watchdog that delivery of the controversial Care.data patient record sharing initiative has been dogged by ‘unresolvable problems’.

The Major Projects Authority, which is supported by the Cabinet Office, has given the delivery of the project a “red” rating as part of an annual review into the progress of various large scale government projects.

The project says the rating denotes that “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.”

The review, released last week, said those leading the Care.data initiative needed to:

  • clarify, agree and communicate the programme scope;
  • reconstitute the programme board with a clear role and responsibilities;  
  • agree and clarify finances; and
  • recruit key personnel.

However, an NHS England spokeswoman told HSJ today that “a lot of work” had been done since the authority carried out its review last year, and a number of its concerns had now been addressed. The data the authority used went up to September 2014.

She said: “This is an old report from eight months ago and since then a lot of work has been done on the programme.

“A subsequent review undertaken in February of this year reported the Care.data programme as ‘amber/red’ reflecting the progress made. The programme continues to make progress.”

She added that a senior responsible officer had been appointed for the programme, which was another one of the recommendations made by the authority.

The Care.data project intends to link patients’ GP records with their hospital records to create a new, richer database.

Earlier this year, NHS England national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey said that commissioners involved in a programme to pilot Care.data before it is rolled out more broadly will not start extracting information from GP patient records until after the general election.

Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group had said it would start sending contacting patients about data extraction at the end of this month, with the process likely to take place from September.