NHS patient information to be made available to private healthcare firms

David Cameron is due to give a speech in London today where he will announce plans to increase collaboration between the National Health Service and the life sciences industry to boost the nation’s economy. Cameron believes that making NHS records anonymous and patient data available to private healthcare firms would see an “opening up” of the health service and can make it a “huge magnet” for innovation and growth.

There is opposition to such a controversial proposal; some believe that commercial interests are being put ahead of patient privacy. Roger Gross from the pressure group Patient Concern said that allowing private firms access to information would mean “the death of patient confidentiality”.

Cameron wants the life sciences sector in Britain to be a world leader and to make it easier to run clinical trials in hospitals; the industry already employs 160,000 people and has a turnover of £50bn a year. A £180m catalyst fund to help commercialise medical breakthroughs and speed up the process of putting new drugs into hospitals would have a hugely beneficial impact on those carrying out vital medical research.

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