BBC News

List of bodies accessing NHS patient data released

By Dominic Hughes
Health correspondent, BBC News

image copyrightChristopher W. Morrow/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
image captionThe list shows 459 requests for data were approved between April and December 2013

A list of bodies that have been allowed to access NHS patient information has been released.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) approved 459 requests for data from 160 organisations between April and December 2013, it shows.

Most of the requests were from NHS or academic research bodies - but private organisations such as management consultancies also had them approved.

Requests from drug firms and other health companies were also approved.

The register of approved data releases was published as part of an effort by the HSCIC to improve transparency and build public trust following widespread concern over how patient data was used.

The register includes details of:

  • which organisation requested data
  • the type of data provided
  • the form it took
  • the legal basis on which it was provided
  • what it was used for

'Encouraging scrutiny'

In 384 of the data releases details that could have identified patients, such as NHS number, full postcode and full date of birth, were changed or removed.

But 75 were of identifiable data, which is only released in certain restricted circumstances, for example where patients have given their consent or there is a legal requirement.

The data was released to:

  • 104 health and social care organisations, which include NHS trusts, NHS England and the Department of Health, along with bodies such as universities and charities
  • 56 private-sector organisations that provide services to the healthcare system

HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning said the publication of the register was an important step towards gaining public confidence.

"We are absolutely committed to encouraging scrutiny of our work and we welcome feedback on today's register, which is important towards informing the structure and clarity of future publications and indeed to the organisation as it develops.

"This is about ensuring citizens and patients are clear about how data is used to improve the health and social care received by them directly and by communities as a whole."