This week sees the Government push back its plan for the controversial Care.Data project, a system in which patients’ records are collated from GP practices and linked to hospital records before being anonymised by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Identifiable data will be taken out and instead only a patient’s age, gender and location will remain.
Fears have been raised by MPs after it emerged that hospital data could be given to the insurance industry, raising further concerns that patient data could end up in the wrong hands. The Health and Social Care Information Centre has acknowledged this should not have happened and are looking into why certain decisions were made under the previous management. Furthermore, whilst patients may opt out of the scheme, a recent poll conducted by the BBC found that fewer than a third could recall getting any thing in the mail.
Despite the scrutiny, many find it hard to argue against the benefits of having such database. Therefore it appears that Care.Data is still a project the government is keen to see through. After all, the advantages of having such a huge electronic database could help with new treatments, fighting diseases, examining new drugs on the market, and assessing the overall standard of care within the NHS. Those in favour of the database argue whether the decisions to sell the data outside of the NHS is enough to scrap the project completely.
For now Care.Data won’t see the light of day until another six months. Questions have been asked about the security of the data and until these safeguards are ironed out we could see more delays before the project is launched in its entirety. Naturally, the data sought for the database is of a sensitive nature and any change must coincide with public confidence. We also wait to see if a national campaign is brought to our tv screens, and radios, in order raise more awareness of the scheme.