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NHS Data Grab

Phil Booth

Are you aware of what's happening with your health data? Currently, the NHS is preparing to share medical histories of 55m patients' information to share with third parties. In tomorrow's episode, Phil Booth joins us to discuss the implications of this and what it means for society.

What's included in this data?

In our interview, Phil explained that the NHS plan to share all medical history of patients in England. This includes significant medical events, from physical, mental and sexual. One of the most concerning part of this data share is the unknown third parties the data will be shared with. It is unclear as to which companies will get this data, but one could predict big tech companies.

Unethical issues of this plan

Phil argues that another unethical factor of this plan is that it has been kept pretty quiet. Apart from a few tweets and blog posts on the Digital NHS website, many people were unaware of their choice to opt out. Pre-recording, the deadline for opting out was the 23rd June 2021, giving patients a few weeks to become aware and make a decision themselves. Since, the NHS have delayed the plan to share GP patient data in England to 1st September 2021. The deadline now to opt out is 23rd August 2021.

“Being handled in a safe way is the minimum level of respect patients’ data should be given in a national health service.”

Phil acknowledges the positive and ethical uses of personal health data. However, in this plan, the commercial and third-party uses of medical histories aren't being discussed. Phil, therefore, argues that campaigns like this need to be carried out in a transparent, consensual, and trustworthy way.

Will this data be anonymised?

This type of personal data needs to be secured. A main concern one might have is if this data will be anonymised. Phil fears that also names will be taken away from data, there might be other personal information attached to the set might still be able to track which data belongs to who.

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