Medical Records: Databases

Health written question – answered on 15th May 2008.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether patients may elect not to have their records included on the NHS Secondary Uses Service database; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (South West), The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Secondary Uses Service (SUS) database is the repository of person and care event data relating to the treatment of patients in the national health service. It is used for management and clinical quality and safety purposes other than direct patient care. These secondary uses include healthcare planning, commissioning, public health, clinical audit, benchmarking, performance improvement, research and clinical governance.

Information provided through SUS will be anonymised or pseudonymised to remove information that could be used to identify individuals but still allow cases to be tracked and linked, for example for research. Patients do not have an automatic right not to have information about them held within SUS. We safeguard the confidentiality of information about patients, while also supporting and facilitating the use of information for the purposes for which SUS exists, subject to safeguards.

Although patients have no automatic right, the Data Protection Act 1998 provides a right to have requests to stop information being held within SUS considered, subject to being able to demonstrate that processing is causing the patient significant damage or distress.

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