HUNDREDS of thousands of GP patients in Northumberland have just over two months to opt out of a controversial data-sharing system after its launch date was delayed.

A new scheme, which would allow an NHS system to extract patient data from GP surgeries in England, was due to start in July, but has been pushed back to September amid concerns around privacy.

NHS Digital figures show there were 331,626 patients on GP registers in the NHS Northumberland CCG area as of June 1. They will now have until August 31 to opt out of sharing their personal information.

The programme - GP Data for Planning and Research - would put the medical histories of 61 million patients across England into a new database.

The scheme will collect information on people’s treatments, referrals and appointments over the past ten years, alongside other data from medical records held on GPs’ systems.

Information will be accessed by organisations “which will legitimately use the data for healthcare planning and research purposes”, and all requests will be subject to independent oversight and scrutiny, NHS Digital said.

Anyone wishing to opt out of GPDPR entirely should do so before September 1.

NHS Digital figures show the number of patients registered with GPs in England increased over the last year, from 60.4 million in June 2020 to 60.9 million this month.