Making NHS health records available to private companies
There has been a flurry of activity in the media in recent hours about a proposed plan to make anonymised NHS health records available to private companies.
I am completely and utterly baffled by this. It is being presented as if it is something new. It isn't. The General Practice Research Database (GPRD) already contains vast amounts of anonymised data from NHS patients, and can be made available to private companies who are prepared to pay the appropriate fee. This has been going on for many years. Indeed, I have analysed data from the GPRD on behalf of pharmaceutical companies myself on more than one occasion.
So what exactly is new here? The GPRD contains records only from primary care, so perhaps the idea is to make data from hospital records available as well. But if so, that hardly warrants a huge fuss. It is simply an extension of an existing scheme rather than anything really new.
What would be new, and would indeed be worthy of a massive fuss (if not rioting in the streets) would be if there is a plan for non-anonymised data to be made available. I do hope that's not what is being proposed.
I am totally confused. Can anyone explain what the story doing the rounds in the media is really about?