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Google and Microsoft ‘could be given NHS records under Tories’

By Steve Nowottny

Patients' NHS records could be transferred to private companies such as Google or Microsoft under a Conservative Government.

According to a report in The Times todayy quoting ‘a senior Tory source', patients will be given the option of moving their medical notes to private companies in a move away from Labour's development of a centralised National Programme for IT.

Under the plans, which have yet to be finalised, users would be able to choose from a range of private sector websites, which could reportedly include private healthcare provider Bupa.

The Times quoted its source saying: ‘This is an agenda we are massively keen on. We're thinking about how in government the architecture of technology needs to change, with people ‘owning' their own data, including their health records.'

‘We are 100 percent certain there will not be an exclusive deal with one provider. We fully expect multiple providers that will almost certainly be free to users.'

Google and Microsoft are both currently developing personal health record systems in the US, although neither has yet been launched in the UK.

A long-awaited Conservative review of NHS IT policy, led by Dr Glyn Hayes, former chair of the British Computer Society's health informatics forum, was originally due to report in March, and has been repeatedly delayed.

A Conservative Party spokesperson was unable to comment on The Times' report, and said a statement would be issued later today.

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