http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/newsarticle ... ring-plansBMA raises alarm over NHS patient data sharing plans
By James Brown | 06 Dec 2011
The NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre will set up a ‘secure data linkage service' by September 2012, which will provide patient data extracts to life sciences businesses using ‘linked data from primary and secondary care and other sources on a routine basis at an unidentifiable, individual level'.
But the BMA raised concerns over patient confidentiality. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA said: ‘Whilst the BMA does believe the use of anonymised health data could benefit patients, we are concerned that elements of the Government's proposals could, if implemented, undermine patient confidentiality.'
She said: ‘We are especially worried by recommendations that would grant researchers, possibly from large commercial companies rather than the patient's healthcare team, access to patient records. This could mean that details of an individual's health status and treatment will be revealed if researchers are able to search through records and identify patients in order to contact them'.
In response, a Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The data will be stored electronically and linked when required to meet a specific health question. This means the data the researcher receives will be only that is relevant to the research'.
The private sector will have to pay to access the records, the Department of Health confirmed to Pulse, stating that ‘the fees and access agreements are yet to be agreed. We are working with the industry, academia, third sector and the public sector to agree a common fee structure'. Although any charge will only be to cover costs to the NHS.