NHS tech chief dismisses patient data concerns • The Register

An outgoing NHS tech chief has defended the decision to merge his organization with a UK government-run entity in what arguably weakens the legal protections of patient data.

Simon Bolton, interim chief executive of the soon-to-be-defunct NHS Digital, said the organization’s merger with NHS England, a non-departmental government agency, was necessary “to give the whole system in particular real clarity of leadership around technology.”

palantir Nyse

The UK government plans to extract hospital data into the Palantir system without patient consent


In March, the former chairman of NHS Digital said the merger was a “grave blunder” in terms of its statutory power to defend patients’ rights.

NHS Digital was set up as the Health and Social Care Information Center (HSCIC) and received instructions from NHS England, the central health authority charged with implementing the state’s NHS guidelines, but failed at its discretion to comply with an instruction not to collect data and to create, not descendants special information systems.

The merger between the two organizations comes about as NHS England (aka NHS England and NHS Improvement) has instructed NHS Digital to collect the patient identifiable data and load it into a system managed by the Spy technology company Palantir is operating to reduce the crisis in treatment waiting times. The decision could well be challenged in court.

At the same time, NHS England will also source a £360million ($428million) federated data platform to host the Common Care Record, which will track individuals through the health and care system. The delayed contract award is set to begin in the coming weeks, with Palantir being hotly bets on the bid.

Bolton told a Westminster Forum Project conference that he didn’t think the merger of NHS Digital and NHS England was a serious mistake. “I think it’s actually crucial. It really is the alphabet soup we had at the heart of the NHS. I think that was really problematic. When I joined it felt like a competition between NHSX [another NHS digital technology agency] and NHS Digital and NHS England. We have to bring that together and consolidate it.

“Speaking of data… we need to demonstrate that we are protecting patient data at all costs because that is a matter of trust. We need to ensure that as we move towards a single NHS England we have the mechanisms in place – and we are indeed building these out now – to ensure we have proper governance in place to ensure data is used properly… and we are going to be open about how we’re doing that,” said Land Rover’s former Jaguar CIO, who will leave NHS England after the merger. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/16/nhs_tech_chief_dismissess_concerns/ NHS tech chief dismisses patient data concerns • The Register

Rick Schindler

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