The controversy over the handling of computerised NHS patient records has grown more intense as it emerged a huge database had been uploaded to Google servers located outside the UK.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, a former family doctor, has questioned how and why the entire HES (hospital episode statistics) database for England was handed over to management firm PA Consulting.
She tweeted: "So HES [hospital episode statistics] data uploaded to 'google's immense army of servers', who consented to that?"
The Guardian reports that PA Consulting, a private firm, had uploaded 27 DVDs' worth of data over the course of two weeks and used Google Maps to create an interactive, searchable tool.
The company said it had obtained the "entire start-to-finish HES dataset across all three areas of collection – inpatient, outpatient and A&E.
"Within two weeks of starting to use the Google tools we were able to produce interactive maps directly from HES queries in seconds," it added.
The use of Google Maps is sure to cause a storm and further privacy fears over the use and storage of this data and the issue of exactly who has access to it.
A separate report in the Independent on Monday revealed anonymous patent data had been "used by a marketing consultancy to advise clients on targeting their social media campaigns."