Sunday, January 19, 2014

NHS patient data to be made available for sale to drug and insurance firms

(Guardian) Drug and insurance companies will from later this year be able to buy information on patients – including mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits – once a single English database of medical data has been created.

Harvested from GP and hospital records, medical data covering the entire population will be uploaded to the repository controlled by a new arms-length NHS information centre, starting in March. Never before has the entire medical history of the nation been digitised and stored in one place.

Advocates say that sharing data will make medical advances easier and ultimately save lives because it will allow researchers to investigate drug side effects or the performance of hospital surgical units by tracking the impact on patients.

But privacy experts warn there will be no way for the public to work out who has their medical records or to what use their data will be put. The extracted information will contain NHS numbers, date of birth, postcode, ethnicity and gender.

Read full article here.


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