UK: Patient data leaves NHS – officials answer our questions
Nearly 300 million confidential medical records have transferred officially from the government to an academic organisation outside the NHS,Â Computer Weekly has learned.
The transferred records contain patient-identifiable information on nearly every stay by patients in hospitals in England, and visits to an accident and emergency department. Also within the transferred records are 215 million confidential files on visits to outpatient departments.
The downloaded files contain dates of birth of patients, their postcodes, NHS numbers and local hospital numbers.
Since 2007 the patient-identifiable records have been downloaded, with official approval, from the Secondary Uses Services, a central database of medical records which is run by BT under the NHS’s Â£12.7bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT].
The disclosure about the transfer of confidential medical files outside the NHS exposes what the British Medical Association and lawyers say is a lack of public debate about the use of patient data in medical research.
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