WIRRAL Euro MP Paul Nuttall has set alarm bells ringing about a proposed NHS "information grab."

GP practices have been contacted by NHS England with details of the plan to access data which requires patients who do not want their confidential information shared to opt out.

"We all know how notorious government computer schemes are, they always cost far more than anticipated and how can we be sure what will eventually happen to this information.

"Unless patients specifically tell their GP practice that they do not wish their information to be handed over and opt out of the scheme it will be automatically seized as 'care data'," said Mr Nuttall, UKIP deputy leader.

"I am not happy about how this is being implemented, the GPs themselves have only recently been told about this project to allow them to run 'eight week consultations' with 'data extraction' scheduled for late October.

"So not really a consultation at all, more a fait accompli."

He continued:"There has been no widespread notification to the public about this GP care data scheme and in fact NHS England ruled out a national publicity campaign about it.

"It has been left to the GP practices but as it is not possible for them to notify all their patients it is highly likely that many will be totally unaware of it until too late.

"Only those who go into the surgery and see notices about it are likely to know about it, which is why I want to highlight this.

"While the information will not include your name it will include your postcode and NHS number so that can hardly be said to be anonymous.

"Even the guidance material seems to contradict itself, speaking of your identity being protected yet further on saying that those who "do not want information that identifies you to be shared" can opt out.

"The data will be sent to the Health and Social Care Information Centre from where it will be shared with commissioners, researchers and private companies apparently in a de-identified form.

"Jeremy Hunt promised the right to opt-out but unless every patient is notified about this information grab it will be meaningless."

A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Information Centre, stressed the information, which will be sent monthly, would not be kept on one server "taking up some huge, giant warehouse somewhere".

A British Medical Association spokesman said: "Sharing patient data to help inform commissioning decisions is an important process that can help to improve NHS services, but it must only be done with strict safeguards in place.

"Patients must be given the option to opt out of any scheme that seeks to transfer identifiable information about them from their records to another source.

"This opt-out should be widely advertised and explained in order that patients are reassured and understand the process being carried out."