HUNDREDS of thousands of GP patients in Morecambe Bay 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 351,270 patients on GP registers in the NHS Morecambe Bay 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 launch was delayed to September 1 following complaints from privacy campaigners and doctors that people did not have enough time to understand what was happening.

Simon Bolton, chief executive of NHS Digital, said: "We take our responsibility to safeguard the data we hold incredibly seriously.

“We intend to use the next two months to speak with patients, doctors, health charities and others to strengthen the plan even further.”