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Health Secretary issues notice to share information in COVID-19 fight

Patient data may be shared with organisations part of the response to COVID-19.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has issued four notices that give the legal backing under the Health Service Control of Patient Information Regulations 2002 to NHS Digital, NHS England and Improvement, health organisations, arm’s length bodies, local authorities and GPs to share the necessary patient data that would support efforts to combat COVID-19.

That means that information may be shared with organisations that are involved in the response to the pandemic, which includes notifying those most at risk of developing severe illness and asking them to self-isolate.

GP practices in England where IT systems are supplied by TPP or EMIS have also been asked to release the relevant primary care patient data of UK Biobank’s around 500,000 consented participants to the study for COVID-19 purposes.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the notices will be reviewed on or before 30 September 2020. If no further notice is received, they will expire that day.

“The health and care system is facing an unprecedented challenge and we want to ensure that health organisations, arm’s length bodies and local authorities are able to process and share the data they need to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19), for example by treating and caring for patients and those at risk, managing the service and identifying patterns and risks,” the Department said.

GDPR allows health data to be used if one or more conditions under articles 6 and 9 of the legislation are met. Data controllers are still required to act in accordance with appropriate data protection standards and make sure they operate within statutory and regulatory boundaries.

More information can be found here.

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