UK Public Opposed to Exploitation of NHS Data by International Tech Companies

NHS data

Following President Trump’s comments on the NHS, a YouGov survey reveals the majority of citizens are against the use of patient information by large tech firms.

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According to research funded by health tech company, Sensing Health, 70% of survey respondents say they are against international tech businesses using patients’ personal information, even if it is anonymised.

As there is no current legislation to protect patient data, 69% highlighted concerns over data being handled in countries where data protection frameworks are different from those applied in the UK. As a result, 70% would prefer patient data to be analysed only by organisations such as universities and companies that are registered and based in the UK.

The survey follows US president Donald Trump’s intentions to include the NHS as part of a trade deal with the UK. NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has also encouraged organisations across the system to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to replace some clinician tasks.

In addition, 86% of citizens polled want the NHS to gain a fair share and to be a priority for any data analysis undertaken. Four-fifths of those surveyed also emphasise that the government should ensure the NHS and taxpayers benefit from patient data exploitation.

Only 11% of the citizens polled are happy for NHS data to be utilised by businesses that are not UK taxpayers.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive at The Patients Association said: “There’s little doubt that new technologies will play a part in delivering care in future, and the results from this study confirm that most people support the use of anonymised patient data for medical research purposes.

“The sharing of patients’ information between care institutions is essential to delivering joined-up care that works for the patient, and it is vitally important that this is done, with all appropriate safeguards, to ensure that sensitive information remains confidential.”

According to 79% of the MPs surveyed and 87% of Labour MPs, NHS patient data is a national resource and asset. In addition, 80% of MPs who took part in the survey also want the government to take formal steps to ensure that NHS patient data is protected by law.

YouGov surveyed 2,081 adults in the UK between 11 and 12 March 2019, and 102 MPs between 11 and 25 March 2019.



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