The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will in come into effect next week. The Data Protection Bill, which transposes the GDPR into UK law, has many merits – it was quite rightly intended to prevent abuse of data and prevent third-party organisations from using information about individuals for purposes other than for which it was intended.
It is a fact, however, that this legislation will unfortunately have some unintended consequences.
The Bill will require NHS dentists, community pharmacists, high street opticians and other small NHS contractors to have a designated data protection officer.
Such a requirement will generate an immense amount of 'red tape' – something the Government professes to want to reduce.
Perhaps even more significantly the role will demand knowledge and skills that are outside the experience of existing staff in these organisations.
In order to comply with the new legislation these practitioners will have no option, therefore, but either to invest in training a member of their staff who might be able to fulfil this role or alternatively to employ an external dedicated data protection officer.
The whole process will be financially and logistically onerous.
When these arrangements are in place you could be forgiven for asking: Who exactly will benefit? The patients certainly won't benefit at all because all data in these practices is already highly regulated and protection of patient information has always been a top priority.
In the end this will simply be one more headache for the already overburdened health professionals.
In an attempt to convince the Government to drop this unnecessary new requirement, I sponsored an amendment to the Data Protection Bill which would have exempted dentists and other NHS primary care professionals from the burden of appointing a Data Protection Officer.
The amendment gained cross-party support and was selected for debate in Parliament, but disappointingly the Ministers refused to listen and rejected this sensible proposed change.
I have now written to the Health Minister Steve Brine MP asking him to look at the impact of this new requirement on small businesses delivering NHS services and consider providing relief for them.
I know the British Dental Association will continue to lobby for an exemption for dentists to be made through regulations, and I hope they succeed in convincing the Government to make this common-sense change.
Julie Cooper MP
Shadow Minister for Community Health
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): advice for dentists
We have tailored advice for dentists on GDPR including checklists, audits, and model templates to help support your compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
We're holding two events for staff working in NHS practices on how to be an effective data protection officer, on 12 June and 26 June.
BDA Extra and Expert members can contract to our team of business and legal advisers for help and support on compliance with the GDPR in dentistry, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're not a member then join to comply with confidence.