NHS postpones plan to share patient records

by jeeg 19. February 2014 16:31

A plan to share NHS patient records with academics, medical charities and drug companies has been postponed for six months in an attempt to convince the public that privacy fears are unfounded.

The giant data base, seen as a likely fillip to Britain’s bioscience industry, was to have been launched in the spring.

David Cameron, the prime minister, had said it would “make the NHS the best place in the world to carry out medical research”.

However privacy campaigners had raised concerns that patients could have been identified from the information. Although records will be anonymised before being passed to researchers, individual patient numbers and postcodes will be fed into the data base.

Announcing the postponement, NHS England said it would now begin collecting patient information from GPs’ surgeries in the autumn rather than the spring as originally planned.

The aim was to “allow 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,” it said.

Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information at NHS England, said it had been told “very clearly” by the public that more time was needed to understand the benefits of sharing information and their right to object.

Sarah Neville, Financial Times


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