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Data sharing rules relaxed for coronavirus response


The Government has loosened the rules on sharing patient information in the NHS in its efforts to combat the coronavirus.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock issued the relevant notices under the Health Service Control of Patient Information Regulations.

They apply to NHS organisations, GPs, local authorities and arm’s length bodies, along with a specific requirement related to the UK Biobank project.

According to the notification to the relevant organisations: “These notices require that data is shared for purposes of coronavirus (Covid-19), and give health organisations and local authorities the security and confidence to share the data they need to respond to coronavirus.

Identifying risk

“For patients, this means that their data may be shared with organisations involved in the response to coronavirus, for example, enabling notification to members of the public most at risk and advising them to self-isolate.”

It adds that data controllers are still required to comply with relevant and appropriate data protection standards and to ensure within reason that they operate within statutory and regulatory boundaries.

The individual documents set out the terms related to the pandemic, saying they include potential patients and pointing to issues such as understanding access to care services, monitoring and managing the response, and research and planning in relation to Covid-19.

The notice will be reviewed by 30 September.

Image by Daniel Sone, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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