Bishop of Oxford asks Government about use and handling of NHS data records

On 5th July Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they will take to ensure that National Health Service patients have equitable access to the benefits of (1) artificial intelligence, (2) genomic medicine, (3) new drugs, and (4) innovative treatments.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, the Question also asked about artificial intelligence. Can the Minister comment on the steps being taken to improve data transfer across different NHS trusts, and standardisation? Are steps being taken to ensure the ethical release of data for research purposes?

Lord O’Shaughnessy: I thank the right reverend Prelate for asking two very good questions. We recently announced the first local health and care records, covering around 40% of the population. Sometimes, you can pitch up in one part of the NHS and they cannot access all your patient and care data; this measure will make sure that that does not happen. Patients want this; it is essential for good direct care.

The right reverend Prelate is quite right about the ethical considerations. We will publish a code of conduct on the proper use of AI in the NHS later this year. We are working with the new Centre for Data Ethics to make sure that this happens.