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Legislation will prevent patient data being sold outside the health service, says Hunt

The Government will bring in legislation to protect any records obtained through NHS England’s care.data scheme from being shared for the commercial gain of companies outside the health service, the health secretary has announced.

Under the amendments to the Care Bill going through Parliament, Jeremy Hunt said the Health and Social Care Information Centre will be prevented from sharing information obtained through care.data where there isn’t a clear benefit to the health service and will introduce a requirement for applicants for data to demonstrate an ‘ethical basis’ for its use.

This announcement was in response to revelations last week that hospital data from every patient in England had been shared with an actuarial society.

It also follows the decision by NHS England to delay extractions from patient records, which were due to begin in March but will now take place in the autumn as a result of calls from the RCGP, BMA, patient rights groups and research organisations that patient had not fully understood the opt-out mechanism. 

The DH said: ‘Our proposed amendments to the Care Bill will need to be scrutinised by Parliament before coming into effect. We plan to table these amendments to be considered at the Bill’s Commons report stage, which will take place on March 10 and 11.’

‘We plan to bring forward the other legislative changes at the earliest opportunity.’

In its statement, the DH also quoted a ‘source close to the health secretary’, who said: ‘The principles around this programme, which will bring real benefits to patients, are fundamentally right, and we completely support them. But, alongside a new campaign from NHS England to explain the programme to the public and GPs, we also need to ensure that robust legislation is in place to address their concerns.’

Professor Nigel Mathers, honorary secretary of the RCGP, said the college was assured that patients’ data was being protected.

He said: ‘We are very grateful to the Government for listening to the concerns of GPs and for meeting the assurances sought by the RCGP in order to ensure that patients’ data is protected.’

‘Care.data is a vitally important project that has the capacity to bring enormous health benefits to patients up and down the country.’

‘However it was critical the Government was able to give the assurances the profession has been seeking, as without them the whole enterprise was at risk of sinking without trace due a crisis of confidence among GPs and patients.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • Vinci Ho

    FNTB
    Freedom of Not To Believe

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  • Liar ,Liar tongues on fire! How do you know when a politicians not telling the truth,their mouth moves.DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN OR HMG.

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  • He may be telling the 'truth' here.

    Of course he has not specified the health service in question - that's right, Mr Hunt didn't mean NHS when he said health service. He will be selling it to commercial 'health service' term of which can be used to describe anyone from pharmaceutical to insurance company (as the Pulse has already uncovered, the latter has already happened!).

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  • Don't worry he's not going to sell it - the unilateral share data agreement with the US means it will either be given away for FREE.

    Private Healthcare companies will reward him with 30 pieces of silver later - when he gets voted out - into a multi-million pound director role at the board for half a day a week.

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  • It's okay - we'll just be able to download it from Google Drive.

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  • He cannot be trusted

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  • Parliament's amendment to the Care Bill on care.data (Report stage is today) STILL says data will leave the NHS! But of course it will still be within the 'health service' so that's alright.

    The amendment to the Bill says ...

    "Care.data is a system being introduced by NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to extract and link large amounts of patient data collected as part of NHS care in order to improve the delivery of healthcare and to benefit researchers inside and outside the NHS."

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  • Readers of the Guardian 17th March will be taken aback by the blatant dishonesty concerning the amount of data already being 'shared' with commercial companies without the knowledge or obviously consent of the public. There must be thousands of employees involved in passing on this information...where are the whistleblowers? Where is any concept of ethical standards being protected in UK? Barbara Keeley labour MP is calling for an audit to discover how much confidential information has aready been passed on to commercial firms and this surely will or should reveal - who authorised it? Anybody out there prepared to speak out anonymously? the Guardian's article is to be applauded just a shame they seem more concerned with possible leaks about politicians' health data than others.

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