NHS threatened with legal action over patient data platform • The Register

Up to date Marketing campaign teams performing on behalf of medical doctors and sufferers have threatened authorized motion over NHS England’s procurement of a £480 million ($582 million) “federated knowledge platform”, as questions on affected person session and compliance with knowledge safety legislation stay unanswered.
Legal professionals performing on behalf of The Docs’ Affiliation UK, Nationwide Pensioners’ Conference, and Simply Therapy have additionally questioned whether or not plans for the platform — as presently described in tender paperwork — may result in tech giants similar to Amazon and Google creating health apps to promote again to the NHS for “the general public good.”
In a separate improvement, information outlet openDemocracy has revealed lots of of NHS hospitals have been ordered to share sufferers’ confidential medical data with Palantir — the US spy-tech firm which considers the FDP a “must-win” contract — underneath the scheme for “Quicker Knowledge Flows.”

The formal procurement for the FDP started in January. Since then, marketing campaign teams have recommended they may take authorized motion over the extension of Palantir’s work on the Covid-19 knowledge retailer and Quicker Knowledge Flows.

In a pre-action authorized letter seen by The Register this week, attorneys performing on behalf of the marketing campaign teams have given NHS England — the non-departmental public physique which operates underneath the Division of Well being and Social Care — two weeks to reply earlier than they apply for a judicial evaluate.
The campaigners problem NHS England’s failure to publish an information safety affect evaluation over the “transformational” plans for the FDP. Stating that well being knowledge is a “particular class” of private knowledge recognised within the European Conference of Human Rights, the attorneys ask the federal government physique to substantiate it can publish the DPIA inside two weeks.

Additionally challenged is the general public’s proper to choose out of their knowledge being shared on the system. NHS England has mentioned knowledge could be anonymized or pseudonymized — a course of which removes private identifiers from the info however leaves open the opportunity of re-identifying the person at a later date through particular markers.
The authorized problem factors out that the UK’s Info Commissioner’s Workplace has already mentioned that pseudonymized knowledge nonetheless counts as private knowledge, requiring consent earlier than sharing. It then questions whether or not the present NHS knowledge opt-out schemes are match for the FDP since they have been designed earlier than the info platform was deliberate.

The letter — supported by tech justice campaigners Foxglove — additionally challenges how FDP “house owners” will have the ability to approve “analysis tasks” for the “public good,” quoting NHS England’s personal paperwork, and allege this sidesteps the necessity for approval from an unbiased evaluate committee.
“By means of a labored instance: underneath the FDP, would Google or Amazon be allowed to realize entry to knowledge ‘owned’ by NHS England for the needs of growing a health watch which the company argues is for the ‘public good’, as they imagine it can enhance the general public’s health, or, at the least, the health of the general public who can afford to buy mentioned health watch,” the letter mentioned.
The Register has contacted NHS England to supply it the chance to reply.

In a press release, Dr David Nicholl, advisor neurologist and consultant of the Docs Affiliation UK, mentioned: “The historical past of the NHS is affected by pricey IT disasters and now, in the course of the worst workforce disaster we now have ever confronted, we can not afford one other. There’s far an excessive amount of we don’t know in regards to the NHS Federated Knowledge Platform for medical doctors to believe that it’ll assist sufferers – or that it’ll work within the methods being promised.”
He mentioned £480 million was a really costly gamble for a undertaking the general public and medical occupation is aware of little about. “We’re placing these pressing inquiries to the federal government now and, with remorse, we’re ready to sue for solutions in the event that they proceed to stonewall us.” ®

Up to date at 16.49 UTC on March 17 2023 so as to add:

An NHS spokesperson despatched us a press release and pointed us towards info it has revealed in regards to the FDP: “NHS England has at all times acted in accordance with its authorized duties and can reply to the referenced letter in the end. This can set out our place intimately due to this fact it will not be applicable to offer remark earlier than that is issued.”