Does the Health Care Bill permit medical research without patient consent?

According to the Hawktalk blog:

The last Labour Government did it in spades and now the Coalition has followed suit. What is “it”? Why enacting legislation that grants Ministers wide ranging and unchecked powers concerning the processing of personal data of course. Don’t worry: it’s just our health records.

About two weeks ago, a colleague at the British Computer Society asked me a simple question: “Does the Health and Social Care Bill, currently before Parliament, permit medical research without patient consent?”.

Having waded through 400 pages of legislation, I think the answer is “yes”; this blog explains why. I also suggest amendments to ensure that the process is subject to a semblance of Parliamentary scrutiny, unpopular though this concept appears to be.

This follows David Cameron’s announcement earlier this week that he plans to release personal data about every school-child in the country, to allow parents to do their own research about school performance.