The controversial project is set to restart later this month. Information and opt out forms are due to be sent out to patients in one of the pilot areas.

Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group said it will start sending letters at the end of June, with data extraction likely to take place between September and November.

The NHS England led project, which intends to link patients’ GP and hospital records, initially intended to begin extracting data in autumn last year, but the programme has been dogged by concerns about patient confidentiality.

It is now being piloted by CCGs in four areas. An update on Blackburn with Darwen’s website said Somerset and West Hampshire CCGs are expected to continue their work in September. The Leeds CCGs - Leeds North, Leeds South and East, and Leeds West - are said to be working to a similar timescale.

The post added: “Due to pre-election guidance that [Blackburn with Darwen] CCG has had to adhere to, no communication with the public has taken place, and GPs have not been able to carry out any formal work on the programme.


Dame Fiona Caldicott is heading the oversight committee that will scrutinise the process before extraction begins

“However, work has continued within the national programme team and with the four pathfinder areas on the review of patient facing materials.

“Blackburn with Darwen will be ready to start fair processing (the time patients have to make a decision whether to opt out) at the end of June.

“Extraction is likely to take place between September and November depending on how fair processing testing communications were conducted. GP systems are currently undertaking the work required for extraction to take place.”

NHS England has said scrutiny of the process by an oversight committee, headed by national data guardian Dame Fiona Caldicott, will take place before data extraction can begin.

In January, it emerged that a potentially large number of patients who opted out of the programme after its initial launch could have been unintentionally excluded from NHS services such as bowel screening. The Health and Social Care Information Centre, which collects the data, has said the objections had not been extracted or implemented, so there was no detrimental impact on anyone’s care.

However, the body also admitted in February that it did not have the resources to handle as many as 700,000 objections it had been received from patients.