As reported by the Financial Times, the database will scratch the medical histories of millions of NHS patients and contain sensitive information such as mental and sexual health details, criminal records, and abuse.
Details on sexual orientation, ethnicity, vaccinations, and more are also collected.
The database summarizes the medical records of all patients in England who are registered in a family doctor’s practice.
The confidential information contained in the NHS database is reported to be available to third parties, academic and commercial, for purposes such as research and planning.
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If you don’t want your details to be added to the database, you only have a few weeks to log out. Patients must download this form from an NHS website, complete it, and return it to their GP by June 23.
In an online post on this data collection, NHS Digital said, “Data will only be made available in response to requests from organizations that have been approved after independent review by our independent group that advises on the publication of data.” In another post, NHS Digital elaborated on who we share patient information with and the types of organizations that may be able to make requests to access such information.
In addition to the Department of Health and Welfare, Public Health England and NHS England “research organizations including universities, charities, clinical research organizations conducting clinical trials and pharmaceutical companies” were also highlighted. However, the organizations “likely to need access to” patient information may not be limited to “the named”.
However, the plans have sparked controversy and privacy campaigners have expressed “serious concerns” about their legality.
Speaking to the FT, Cori Crider, co-founder of the Digital Rights Campaign Group Foxglove, asked what types of organizations would have access to the data.
Crider said, “Is it drug companies? Google Deepmind’s health arm? When you ask patients if they want to share details about their fertility treatment or abortion, or the results of their colonoscopy.” [those companies], they won’t want that “.
The NHS Digital website added that “General Practice Data for Planning and Research” does not record names or addresses of patients.
Data that could be used to identify a patient (such as NHS number, date of birth, full zip code) will be replaced with unique codes.
However, NHS Digital said that this code could be converted back into data that, in certain circumstances, identifies a patient if there is a “valid legal reason”.
NHS Digital said, “This process is known as pseudonymization and means that patients are not directly identified in the data. NHS Digital can use the software to convert the unique codes back into data that, in certain circumstances, can directly identify patients where it is there is a valid legal reason. “
Speaking to Express.co.uk, an NHS Digital spokesperson said: “Patient data is already being used every day to plan and improve health services, conduct research that leads to better treatments, and save lives.
“During the pandemic, data from general practitioners was used to help millions of us: they helped identify and protect the most vulnerable, launch our world-leading immunization program, and identify hospital treatments that have prevented people from attending Covid die. “
“We have worked with physicians, patients, data, privacy, and ethics professionals to design and build a better system for collecting this data. The data will only be used for health and care planning and research purposes by organizations that can prove it that they have a reasonable legal basis and a legitimate need to use them.
“We take our responsibility to protect patient data very seriously. Researchers who wish to access this data must approve any request from the Independent Advisory Group on the Release of Data (IGARD) and a GP Professional Advisory Group (PAG) with representatives from.” the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners. “