DHSC announces new review into use of health data

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A model new consider was not too way back launched by the Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC) to hold consideration to the additional surroundings pleasant and guarded use of effectively being info for evaluation and analysis throughout the healthcare sector.

Well being secretary, Matt Hancock has requested director of the DataLab, Nuffield Division of Main Care Well being Sciences on the College of Oxford, Dr Ben Goldacre to undertake this consider and report his findings in April.

Having labored on quite a few nationwide experience initiatives resembling OpenSAFELY.org and OpenPrescribing.web, Hancock described Dr Goldacre as someone with a “wealth of expertise” in working with effectively being info.


Hancock outlined: “The pandemic has demonstrated simply how vital well being information is. Making certain that researchers have safe, clear and moral entry to well being information has the potential to rework well being and care and save lives.”

Twelve phrases of reference for the consider have been outlined by the DHSC, along with:

  • How can we facilitate entry to NHS info by researchers, commissioners, and innovators, whereas preserving affected individual privateness?
  • What sorts of technical platforms, trusted evaluation environments, and knowledge flows are primarily probably the most surroundings pleasant, and guarded, for which frequent analytic duties?
  • How can we overcome the technical and cultural boundaries to attaining this objective, and the way in which can they be shortly overcome?
  • The place (with relevant sensitivity) have current approaches been worthwhile, and the place have they struggled?
  • How can we avoid unhelpful monopolies being asserted over info entry for analysis?


A tribute was made instantly to commemorate the passing of Dame Fiona Caldicott, the first statutory nationwide info guardian for effectively being and social care. In 2014, then secretary of effectively being Jeremy Hunt appointed Dame Fiona to the place with the aim to help “make sure that the general public can belief that well being and care data is securely safeguarded and used appropriately”, following an Info Governance Assessment launched in 2013, typically known as the Caldicott2 report. In 1997, she was appointed to information a consider on medical confidentiality and the way in which affected individual knowledge was protected. From this, the eight Caldicott Rules for sharing personal confidential info established that confidential knowledge should solely be used for a justifiable purpose, contained in the laws and on a strict need-to-know basis. 

In a modern report printed in The Lancet on structural inequalities, biases and racism, it was found that data-driven utilized sciences can exacerbate present effectively being inequalities. Following issues in regards to the problem of “race blind” info, the NHS launched that it will start recording COVID-19 vaccine ethnicity info.

In a severe switch launched by HSJ instantly, NHSX plans to merge right into a model new transformation directorate to combine digital and operational enchancment teams inside NHS England and NHS Enchancment. 

Within the aim of delivering a further joined up effectively being and care system, a modern UK authorities white paper has outlined proposals to make built-in care methods (ICSs) the default all through England, cut back licensed paperwork, and better assist social care, public effectively being and the NHS.


Dr Goldacre acknowledged: “The UK has an excellent helpful useful resource in its raw info, and its of us. Our downside is now throughout the remaining lap: we’ve got to find protected, protected, collaborative and surroundings pleasant strategies to point out that raw info into insights and movement, to boost affected individual take care of all. There’s a wealth of expertise throughout the nation, numerous it untapped.

“I’m excited to speak to folks throughout well being, social care and analysis about their experiences and considerations to assist drive higher, broader, protected use of well being information.”

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