Health bodies defend their right to access patient data
Clashes between the Department of Health and privacy campaigners looked set to continue over new regulations to allow healthcare providers in England and Wales to pass patients' data--without consent--to monitoring bodies such as the cancer registries.
The basic provision for the measure, however, was approved last year as part of the Health and Social Care act. The present row relates to the statutory instrument being formulated for use under the act.
Despite claims by privacy campaigners that the law would be a “snoop's charter,” health agencies insisted that the regulations gave them only limited scope to use data, which they say are already carefully protected from misuse.
“This does not give us carte blanche,” said Dr Barry Evans, public health consultant at the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London, who is responsible for the privacy of the centre's data. “It just legitimises what is currently going on.”
Dr Evans stressed that