Private companies set for access to patient data for just £1 2

Madlen Davies writes in Pulse:

Private companies and researchers will be able to access data from GP records for £1, under plans revealed by NHS England to radically reduce the cost and boost the availability of information about patients available outside the NHS.

The body’s chief data officer has revealed he wants to reduce the costs for companies to access NHS datasets, from around £20,000 to £30,000 currently, to just £1.

NHS England said the data would be used to identify where improvements and efficiencies could be made in the NHS and that only approved companies would have access to the data.

But the GPC has raised concerns that private companies would have access to NHS patient data ‘on the cheap’.

Phil Booth of MedConfidential provides some commentary:

The government’s announcement today that private companies are to be given access to patient data for the princely sum of £1, is just the latest attack on the principles of patient confidentiality in the interests of commerce.

David Cameron signalled the intent back in 2011 when he announced that we are all to be research patients by default. Behind the window-dressing of scientific progress, lies a determined new policy on ‘open data’ which is about using your data – including your medical records held by the NHS – in order “to drive economic growth”. Under the new regime, your sensitive health information will be taken directly from your GP’s record system and presumed available for a variety of “secondary uses” that go beyond research or your direct medical care.

To enable this, the NHS Constitution has been rewritten and fundamental assumptions such as medical confidentiality are being overturned. In private, officials admit the end state of all this is unclear, but the public language about what is happening to your confidential medical records is carefully chosen to obfuscate and pacify.

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