In a statement made in London on 5th December 2011, David Cameron said that he wants to make huge numbers of patient records in England available to the drugs industry and for every NHS patient to be a “research patient”, with their medical details “opened up” to private healthcare companies. The PM hopes that this will result in patients in the UK gaining faster access to new treatments and for Britain’s life sciences sector to become a world leader.
However, critics are saying that commercial interests are being put ahead of patient privacy, and that as the information would include postcodes and age profiles, it may be possible to trace back to the individuals concerned.
The PM allayed fears by saying that this would not threaten privacy, as it doesn’t mean anyone can look at your health records, but it does mean that using anonymous data would help with new medical breakthroughs. Patients would be able to “opt out” of their data being used, but with every willing patient being a research patient, they would be playing a part in the fight against disease at home and around the world.
Joyce Robins, founder of the organisation “Patient Concern” said that subject data should only be made available on the basis of patients “informed consent”.
David Cameron will be having future talks about the NHS Constitution which governs how the health service is run.
This will be an interesting issue to follow!!