latest health care news

06.01.14

Leaflet drop across England on new patient data sharing plan

NHS England has started a leaflet drop today, explaining how patients’ data is to be shared and used to improve quality of services and to aid research.

The ‘Better Information Means Better Care’ leaflet sets out the benefits of sharing information and highlights that patients have the right to object to their data being used for purposes other than their direct care.

Patients who choose to restrict their data must talk to their GP. An information line has been set up for patients: 0300 456 3531.

Dr Geraint Lewis, chief data officer at NHS England, said: “The NHS has been collecting information like this from hospitals for decades but until now we’ve been missing information about the quality of care provided outside hospital. This initiative is about upgrading our information systems to get a more complete picture of the quality of care being delivered across all parts of the NHS and social care.”

Dr Imran Rafi, chair of the Clinical Innovation and Research Centre at the RCGP said: “I fully support this initiative. GPs understand the importance of sharing information appropriately both as part of delivering clinical care and for wider uses, such as research and for planning NHS services. It is important that patients understand how the NHS uses and shares their information, and that they feel they have been given a proper choice to participate. The spin-off is the potential for all NHS patients to benefit.”

Dr Mark Davies, Medical Director at the HSCIC said: “The Health and Social Care Information Centre was set up as the legal ‘safe haven’ for protecting and managing patient information. We want everyone to feel confident that their information is kept private and used in non-identifiable form to improve the quality of health and social care for everyone.  Equally important is that everyone knows that they have a choice and can raise an objection by simply talking to their GP.”

But Big Brother Watch said: “Clearly a huge amount of people will not see a leaflet dropped among the usual junk mail and it is surely right to expect that where our medical records are concerned, we should receive a personal letter at the very least.

“Our research has highlighted that data protection regulation, which in theory should protect patients from having their information accessed unnecessarily, does not stop serious data protection breaches from occurring. Our medical records contain our most personal information and given the real privacy concerns about amassing a huge central database of patient information, the NHS should be showing far more respect than such a lazy effort to inform people about these changes.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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