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NHS Digital defends its plans to share patient data with third-parties

NHS Digital defends its plans to share patient data with third-parties

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NHS Digital has defended wide-spread criticism about its plans to share patient data with third-parties. Fears grew around the confidentiality of patient data, but the organisation pointed out that patients can opt-out of the process.

An NHS Digital spokesperson said: “Patient data is already used every day to plan and improve healthcare services, for research that results in better treatments and to save lives. 

“During the pandemic, data from GPs has been used to benefit millions of us: helping to identify and protect those most vulnerable, rollout our world-leading vaccine programme and identify hospital treatments which have prevented people dying from COVID. 

“We have engaged with doctors, patients, data, privacy and ethics experts 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 organisations which can show they have an appropriate legal basis and a legitimate need to use it. 

“We take our responsibility to safeguard patient data extremely seriously. Researchers wanting to access this data will need each request to be approved by the Independent Group Advising 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.”

The spokesperson said that NHS Digital will not allow data to be used solely for commercial purposes, nor will it approve requests for data to be used for insurance or marketing purposes, promoting or selling products or services and market research.

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