PATIENT records will be shared by GP practices in Bolton as part of a new health and social care system being rolled out across England — but patients can still opt out.

The NHS is creating a new digital information system, which will use routine details from medical records to help improve health services.

The system, known as, has been rolled out by Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in the north of England on behalf of NHS England, and now the rest of the country will follow.

GP practices in Bolton will take information from patient medical records every month and this will automatically be sent to the HSCIC. A patient’s date of birth, full postcode, NHS number and gender, rather than their name, will be used to link their records in a secure online system, managed by the HSCIC.

Su Long, chief officer at NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The aim of this national initiative is to drive improvements in patient care. For NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, it will mean we have higher quality information about the health needs of our community, which will help us to make better decisions on planning health care provision.

“For example, we will be able to track and understand the different treatments Bolton people with diabetes are receiving, whether from their GP or hospital.

“Data will have personal information removed before organisations like the CCG can use it.

“Patients have the right to object to their data being used for purposes other than their direct care. If patients wish to restrict their data being used then they should talk to their GP.”

People happy to have their information shared do not have to do anything, but those who object are urged to speak to a staff member at their practice.