NHS England has bowed to pressure to delay the national rollout of care.data to boost public awareness of the scheme and understanding of its implications.

The mammoth data sharing initiative is now set to begin in earnest in the Autumn, allowing more time to build understanding of the benefits of using the information, what safeguards are in place, and how people can opt out if they choose to.

During that time, NHS England said it plans to work hand-in-hand with patients and professional groups to develop additional practical steps to promote public awareness, ensuring that information is accessible and reaches all sections of the community.

It also plans to investigate further measures that could boost public confidence, "in particular steps relating to scrutiny of ways in which the information will be used to benefit NHS patients".

The move has been received well. 

Anna Bradley, Chair of Healthwatch England, said NHS England has "shown a willingness to listen to what the public have to say about the way their health and care services are run". 

Also thanking the organisation for listening to the RCGP's concerns, honorary secretary Nigel Mathers said the extra time allows it to "redouble its efforts to inform every patient of their right to opt out, every GP of how the programme will work, and the nation of what robust safeguards will be in place to protect the security of people's data".

The British Medical Association has also welcomed the delay. 

"While the BMA is supportive of using anonymised data to plan and improve the quality of NHS care for patients, this must only be done with the support and consent of the public, and it is only right that they fully understand what the proposals mean to them and what their rights are if they do not wish their data to be extracted," said BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul.