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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Newly available Health Data will support Medical Research and Patient Empowerment"

That's the line from the Department of Health! We received a link to this in response to a query we submitted questioning the accuracy of a report in the Guardian which contained the following paragraph:

"The health data will be the most comprehensive available outside of US veterans' medical records in America, publishing anonymous records of medical treatment from GP to hospital –something proposed by the Wellcome Trust in its submission to the NHS Innovation review this year: "Integrated databases … would make England unique, globally, for such research." Medical researchers and big pharmaceutical companies will be able to use the data for free"

It's a piece of poor reporting which slightly beggars belief in the light of the Guardian's coverage yesterday of the Leveson inquiry and revelations (or confirmations, rather) of shabby reporting practices by the tabloids. They have either poorly researched, poorly understood or deliberately conflated items in order to inspire the wrath of Guardian commentators who responded in part by lamenting, as they see it, the government's gift to pharmaeutical companies eager to use this data to develop new drugs to sell to the NHS at inflated prices - I'm thinking of this comment in particular:

"private pharamaceutical companies to analyse health data in order to make more money out of health for the private sector. Meanwhile every week a new study finds something "wrong" with the NHS -manufacturing consent that what the country really needs is private healthcare.
Really loving the fact that my health records will be analysed so that private companies can prosper and develop "remedies" that will be sold to hospitals for a fortune.
We are witnessing a sick and hopefully dying civilization."
From what we understand, there is a conflation here of the NHS Information Centre's decision to release prescription data and the previously blogged about Clinical Practice Research Datalink which will not be releasing information for free - check out the release from the DoH for clarity and for some excellent commentary see Simon Denegri's blog and Becky's Policy Pages.

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