England’s Data Guardian warns of plans to grant police access to patient data

England’s National Data Guardian has warned that government plans to allow data sharing between NHS bodies and the police could “erode trust and confidence” in doctors and other healthcare providers.

Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Dr Nicola Byrne said she had raised concerns with the government over clauses in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The bill, set to go through the House of Lords this month, could force NHS bodies such as commissioning groups to share data with police and other specified authorities to prevent and reduce serious violence in their local areas.

Dr Byrne said the proposed law could “erode trust and confidence, and deter people from sharing information, and even from presenting for clinical care.”

Meanwhile, the bill [PDF] did not detail what information it would cover, she said. “The case isn’t made as to why that is necessary. These things need to be debated openly and in public.”

In a blog published last week, Dr Byrne said the bill imposes a duty on clinical groups in the NHS to disclose information to police without breaching any obligation of patient confidentiality.

“Whilst tackling serious violence is important, it is essential that the risks and harms that this new duty pose to patient confidentiality, and thereby public trust, are engaged with and addressed,” she said.

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Source: England’s Data Guardian warns of plans to grant police access to patient data • The Register

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