Questions asked over NHS plans to share patient data

News by SC Staff

The NHS has been criticised for its plan to share patient data.

The NHS has been criticised for its plan to share patient data.


Mike Barwise, editor of has criticised an apparent NHS plan to conduct a consultation on the ‘Additional Uses of Patient Data', which could allow wider distribution of patient's data - both anonymously and on a named basis - within the NHS and beyond.


The aim is to independently collect and analyse the views of interested parties about how patient information held by the NHS should be used for additional purposes.


The consultation will focus on additional uses, such as planning, research, audit and management with details shared with carers, the public, clinical staff, NHS managers, other care services, the ethics community, researchers and professional bodies.


Barwise said: “The computerisation of medical records has been, and will continue to be, an enormously emotive subject. But the plain fact is that almost all NHS records are now online somewhere, and accessible to millions of staff armed only with your NHS number and the authority to access the file.


“Given the government's recent record in data security, that is bad enough, but increased data sharing beyond the confines of the health service could lead to a whole new generation of privacy violations, the implications of which we can only guess at.


“Increased data sharing is going to happen whether we like it or not. What we need to do is ensure that sufficient safeguards are put in place, that they are made to work and can be shown to be working. This is an important issue that needs to be debated. Not by Parliament, and not by NHS bureaucrats, but first and foremost by us, the public. We must press for recognition that we ourselves own our medical records and should stand up for our right to determine who is entitled to access them.”


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