Which? supports use of anonymous patient recordsTight controls needed to protect patient privacy

05 December 2011

Doctor and patient

Which? supports the Prime Minister's life science industry proposals that will allow the medical profession to use medical records for research, but tight controls must be in place to protect privacy.

In an announcement today, Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed a multi-million pound investment in the UK's life science's industry.

Plans include the provision for three million at-risk patients to receive hi-tech equipment for home treatments.

The proposals also include a £180m 'valley of death' fund for new medical breakthroughs and a promise to cut NHS red tape to give patients faster access to drugs.

Sharing patient health records

The proposals recommend using data from patient health records to enable future innovations in health, and making patients more aware of health care developments. 

Which? supports the proposal that patients should be better equipped to demand the latest treatments.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'We think that it makes sense to enable the careful use of anonymous patient records to inform research and drive innovation in healthcare in the UK.'

Protect patient privacy

However, he warned: 'It's crucial that tight controls are put in place to protect patient privacy and make sure the information is used only for legitimate research.'

Which? wants people to be told how their data will be used so they can make an informed choice about whether or not to consent, and it must be quick and easy to opt out at any point.

Richard Lloyd said: 'Which? urges the government to use independent, trusted bodies to oversee how this information is used and to safeguard privacy.'

Radical NHS change

Outlining his reasons behind the life science's proposals, the Prime Minister said: 'We've got to change radically – the way we innovate, the way we collaborate, the way we open up the NHS.'

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