A message from Birmingham Local Medical Committee

Please note: The message below was sent to Birmingham GP practices by Dr. Robert Morley, Executive Secretary of Birmingham Local Medical Committee, following an independent legal review of the Your Care Connected Data Sharing Agreement.

Whilst the statement was specifically intended for Birmingham practices and does not aim to speak on behalf of either Sandwell or Solihull Local Medical Committees, the sentiment applies to practices in those areas as well in respect of the findings of the independent legal advisors and the low risk associated with participation in Your Care Connected.

Many thanks to Dr. Morley for allowing us to share this message on the website.

The Your Care Connected programme team has worked closely with all three Local Medical Committees to ensure that the service understands, respects and protects GP practices in their roles as data controllers of patient data.

"Birmingham LMC has been fully consulted on the YCC project and I have been attending project board meetings in an advisory capacity in order to ensure that the perspective of Birmingham GP practices have been fully considered and their interest safeguarded as far as is possible. The degree to which the board has engaged with Birmingham LMC and been prepared to take on board and act upon our advice has been both welcome and appreciated.

I can confirm that Birmingham LMC has sought its own independent legal advice on the YCC Data Sharing Agreement (DSA). Our lawyers additionally had full background information on the project and were able to discuss the matter with senior YCC project board members and its legal adviser. I can confirm that our legal advisers are indeed content that the legal basis for Birmingham practices to share data under the YCC project and using this DSA is sound and that the potential for any legal or other risks to practices doing so is minimal. I can also confirm that Birmingham LMC shared an earlier draft of the DSA with the BMA medical ethics department. Numerous comments and suggestions by BMA ethics were considered by the YCC project board and incorporated into the revised DSA, which has also been the subject of discussions with the Information Commissioners Office and the opinions of an expert barrister specialising in information governance issues commissioned by the YCC project board.

Birmingham LMC can therefore reassure its practices, as much as it possibly can, in respect of participation in the YCC project. Of course this cannot completely mitigate any risks, but the probability is that such risks are no more likely and no greater than any risks that Birmingham practices run through appropriate sharing of data by other means as part of their usual clinical practice. Furthermore, when making their decision on whether or not to participate, Birmingham practices will also want to consider both the potential benefits, for their patients and themselves, of utilising YCC, and also set against this any potential risks arising from non-participation. I expect that most Birmingham practices are likely to decide that the potential benefits outweigh possible risks, but clearly this will be an individual practice decision.

I am also mindful that participation may bring potential, and currently unquantifiable, workload issues for practices, and the need to ensure that the data on their clinical systems is as accurate as possible. Again though it may also be that participation in YCC will bring about some benefits in respect of practice workload.

If any Birmingham practice wishes to see the LMC’s legal advice I have our lawyer’s permission to share it, in which case a hard copy will be sent upon request, but with the caveats that this must not be shared outside the requesting practice, and that the advice therein has been produced solely for Birmingham LMC and cannot be relied upon by any other party. Any practice which still has concerns in respect of participating in YCC should consider obtaining its own legal opinion."

Dr. Robert Morley Executive Secretary, Birmingham Local Medical Committee
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