On Monday, I launched the independent Review of NHS and Social Care IT, along with the Conservative response.
In the response, we made it very clear that the patient should have greater control over their healthcare information and that this information should be stored locally – not in Labour’s insecure national databases.
As a Conservative, I believe that we as patients are best placed to assess who should access our health record and when.
This is why we have launched a nationwide consultation on how much control patients want over their health records and why we have pledged to store health data away from a monolithic central database
We have already made clear that every patient should have the right to view their health record and we are consulting on whether there is scope for patients to contribute to records by adding comments and extra information on their health if they choose to.
What is not yet decided is how patients might access this record (for example through an electronic card or over the internet) and who might provide the system to facilitate this access – does the patient want to choose a provider from a range of suppliers or would they like their record to be held on a system chosen by their GP? We want you the patient to have a say in these decisions.
I am acutely aware of the concerns many have about their data being secure – our Review made clear that we need to offer patients a range of security-guaranteed options for viewing their healthcare data. The Government’s national database of patient records is a huge security risk and that’s why we’re enlisting the public’s help in examining alternative solutions.
What we are very clear on though is that we don’t want any one single provider or private company to have control over patient records – instead, the patient will have the choice over how they access their information.
Healthcare data helps doctors do their job and helps our NHS become more efficient by improving patient care – it is important that we prioritise security at the same time as enabling patients, taxpayers and dedicated professionals to get the most out of our NHS.
Labour’s National Programme for IT went wrong because it used patient information as a tool for the State rather than as a tool for empowering the individual service-user to receive better healthcare. We want to redress the balance and let the patient call the shots.