Missing safeguards for NHS Digital’s medical records database

Dr Chris Pounder considers the perils of this proposal as the NHS Digital GP database would not be limited to medical-related purposes.

Like many, I did not know about the Ministerial Directions that require NHS Digital to create a national database of GP medical records until the indefatigable “Med Confidentiality” NGO raised its profile. In this article, I will make some comments about data protection safeguards, most of them statutory, which appear to me to be missing.

NHS Digital, at the behest of the Secretary of State for Health, has been given Directions to take copies of medical records from all GP surgeries in England. As health policy is a devolved matter, these Ministerial Directions only apply in England (but I suspect other UK administrations will be watching carefully to see what happens).

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