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Care Record confidentiality problems fixed, Government claims

By Steve Nowottny

The Government ‘has already taken steps' to review the Secondary Uses Service – a key part of plans for the Summary Care Record – amid concerns over consent and confidentiality, it claimed this week.

The assertion follows a warning from senior MPs that there was an ‘urgent need' to review plans to protect the security of patient data. The Health Select Committee's report into the electronic patient record earlier this year raised major concerns over the way patient records would be used for research purposes and whether pseudonymisation would be effective at protecting patient-identifiable data.

In its response to the committee, published this week, the Department of Health said it ‘accepts' the criticisms - and ‘has already taken steps that will address these recommendations.'

A new National Information Governance Board, which met for the first time last month, has been established to oversee the use of patient data in the SUS. The department has also launched research into the effectiveness of pseudonymisation and ‘the appropriate governance arrangements for access to data for research purposes.'

But the department rejected the call by MPs for patient data in so-called ‘sealed to be excluded from research, insisting ‘the design of the Secondary Uses Service ensures that patient confidentiality is protected.'

The response comes as Pulse revealed this week that staff from across the NHS are accessing sensitive patient-identifiable data through access to the SUS.

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