Hundreds of patient medical records have been sold to private companies, according to a damning new report that concludes the NHS has made “significant lapses” in the handling of patient data.
The review into data handling, released by the NHS Information Centre (NHS IC), found patients’ data could have been used “improperly” due to a failure to implement data-sharing arrangements.
The review, chaired by Sir Nicholas Partridge, the group’s non-executive director, suggests there were 588 “data releases” to private sector firms between 2005 and 2013, with medical information passed to pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers and data analysts. Although information did not name patients, in some cases it would have been possible to identify people through the information provided.
The review found there were “significant administrative lapses” in recording the release of data. In some cases the decision-making process as to why the data was released was “unclear” and records of decisions incomplete. “It disappoints me to report that the review has discovered lapses in the strict arrangements that were supposed to be in place to ensure that people’s personal data would never be used improperly,” the review stated.