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NHS: Healthcare Data - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:50 pm on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Lord Freyberg Lord Freyberg Crossbench 1:50 pm, 6th September 2018

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken today. It has been quite an excellent debate and I have learned much from it. I echo other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, on his excellent maiden speech. He emphasised serious points about the fears that individuals have about their data and how it is used—which I share—but also its benefits. I thank him for his fascinating contribution. I also thank the Minister for the way he has engaged with and embraced this subject. I know he shares a passion for shaping this area to derive maximum public benefit in a socially acceptable way. However, while I recognise that his code of conduct is welcome, in reality it is fine words with no delivery teeth. Without a competent central resource to support the trusts in commercial negotiations on data, they will be steam-rollered. I therefore look forward to engaging with him to prevent that.

As I listened to noble Lords, several themes emerged. If I were to highlight one it would be that making this data resource do what we hope it will do will be hard won. The records are fragmented and incomplete, considerable investment is required to make the data useful, the skills to do this well are scarce and the politics of medical data are challenging. My noble friend’s analogy of North Sea oil in the 1980s seems apt. I therefore call on all sides of this House to engage in this debate and create consensus on the core principles for such a policy.

Motion agreed.