The UK government has unveiled a new data strategy as it aims to popularise data sovereignty after receiving some backlash last year over the GP data collection scheme.
The Department of Health and Social Care has published its ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data‘ plan.
The policy dictates the government’s pledge to reform the NHS app through updated GP records, a simplified data sharing process, and greater freedom for users to opt out of the scheme whenever wanted.
That backlash was covered in various places, but as trade journal The BMJ (published by trade union the British Medical Association) noted in 2021, a new way to extract patients’ data from general practices in England was criticised by privacy rights campaigning groups, which were concerned about the scheme’s lack of clarity and the level of detailed information being gathered.
With a focus on the present and the future, Sajid Javid, the health secretary, also announced a £200 million investment in healthcare. Trusted research environments (TREs) – a form of secure data environments – will be established to enable researchers to access linked NHS data while maintaining privacy and security.
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These TREs might also have a data clause for users to allow data sharing in a compartmentalised manner.
The seven-principled health strategy included regular social audits, decentralising decision-making and developing a lasting infrastructure.
Javid pledged another £25 million for digitising the social care sector. Currently only 45% of social care providers use a digital social care record and 23% of care home staff cannot access the internet consistently at work.
The data strategy wants at least 80% of social care providers to have a digitised care record in place by March 2024.
Besides reforms in record keeping, the government plans access to wearables like acoustic motion sensors, setting up integrated social care systems and several PoS to capture data at the primary point. The idea is to reduce bottlenecks faced by social care workers in matching patient records and creating a health profile per the allocated data.
This new data strategy could be seen as a shot at redemption for a government keen to earn back public trust.