Practices will have to provide information requests for free under new legislation

Published: 15 Nov 2017 By Michelle Madsen


New European legislation will ban GPs from charging for providing personal data, in a move that could cost practices into the tens of thousands a year. 

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force next May, scraps the fees that data providers can charge people for their information.

The new rules mean practices will have to provide a free electronic copy of a patient's data, instead of charging fees of up to £50 per 'subject access request'.

This is despite GPs estimating that the requests can cost practices up to £80 a time.

The European Union says that the change in legislation is designed to 'protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organisations across the region approach data privacy'.

However, GP leaders have warned that this is likely to increase the number of requests coming in.

Former GPC IT subcommittee chair Dr Grant Ingrams said: ‘Despite GPs campaigning for years that they should not personally have to bear the cost of [subject access requests] by patients it is disappointing that even the minimal amount that GPs could charge is being swept away.

'This will result in an increase in the number of requests and practices being significantly out of pocket. Coming at a time when practices are already on their knees this could be the last straw for some. ‘

Telford practice manager and practice partner Clive Elliott warned that practices will be left shouldering the burden of providing patients’ data, which will have a knock-on impact on frontline services.

It already costs his practice £80 a time to deal with a subject access request, with costs including staff time and redaction of third party data.

He estimates that the average practice currently subsidises the cost of SARs by £8,000 – a sum that will rise once demand increases when the requests are free for patients.

He told Pulse: ‘All of these costs have risen.........

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