NHS plans to share UK patient records with third parties

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The National Health Service (NHS) is set to compile and share a database of its patients with third parties for research and planning purposes next month, according to reports.

The Financial Times shared details about the plans to pool together the medical records of around 55 million NHS patients in England who are registered with a GP clinic, inside a database that will contain sensitive information about mental and sexual health, criminal records and abuse.

Not surprisingly, the plan, first set out by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in April 2021, has raised red flags from privacy campaigners who are critical about the privacy implications of the database and the immediacy of the rollout. 

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The Financial Times report cites a letter from Foxglove, a campaign group for digital rights, to the Department of Health and Social Care, in which they’ve raised questions about the legality of the proposal under the current data protection laws, going as far ahead as threatening legal action, 

Privacy nightmare

Foxglove’s co-founder Cori Crider told Financial Times that she’s also worried since the NHS hasn’t identified the entities who would have access to this data.

“Is it pharma companies? The health arm of Google Deepmind? If you ask patients whether they want details of their fertility treatment or abortion, or results of their colonoscopy shared with [those companies], they’re not going to want that,” said Crider.

The database is being compiled by NHS Digital, which is the IT arm of the NHS, who admitted to being working on it for the past three years.

As things stand now, patients have until June 23 to fill in a form to keep their data from becoming a permanent and irreversible part of the new database. 

Via Financial Times

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.