Alongside media reports in January of U.S.-U.K. plans to collaborate on healthcare data policy, National Health Service England announced its plans to combine the records of all its patients into asingle database to be available by April. This week, the NHS halted the proposed program due to widespread concerns. Promoters of the program claim that the database will allow for medical advances, and that sales of the data to private companies will be necessary as the NHS is privatized. Opponents list a variety of potential problems with the database the contents of which will be available for sale to pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Uncertainty regarding who will have access to the data is a big concern. According to Phil Booth, director of a patient privacy group, “One of people’s commonest concerns about their medical records is that they’ll be used for commercial purposes, or mean they are discriminated against by insurers or in the workplace.” Still another worry is the fact that the £50 million plan will be illegal and will have to be terminated within a year or so if proposed EU laws are passed in the coming year. A recent poll found only 17% of the public supports the database plan, with 65% opposing it. The plan’s supporters are launching a publicity campaign to address the public’s concerns.
See full Telegraph (London) article at “NHS medical records database halted amid concerns”