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Concern police will be able to ‘strong-arm’ NHS to hand over patient data under new plans

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Police forces will be able to “strong-arm” NHS bodies into handing over confidential patient data under planned laws that have sparked fury from doctors’ groups and the UK’s medical watchdog.

Ministers are planning new powers for police forces that would “set aside” the existing duty of confidentiality that applies to patient data held by the NHS and will instead require NHS organisations to hand over data police say they need to prevent serious violence.

Last week, England’s national data guardian, Dr Nicola Byrne, told The Independent she had serious concerns about the impact of the legislation going through parliament, and warned that the case for introducing the sweeping powers had not been made.

Now the UK’s medical watchdog, the General Medical Council (GMC), has also criticised the new law, proposals for which are contained in the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill, warning it fails to protect patients’ sensitive information and could disproportionately hit some groups and worsen inequalities.

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Source: The Independent, 18 October 2021

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