A list of where the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has shared information has now been released.
HSCIC has released the data as part of a drive towards greater transparency and to build public trust.
The HSCIC claims that most of the data had been sent to companies in an aggregated, anonymised form.
A statement from the HSCIC also states that data collected and disseminated by the HSCIC is used for a variety of purposes including ensuring people who plan services understand the types of illness people have, the treatments they need and the effectiveness of treatments; helping to understand and predict health trends; and research into the effectiveness of existing and new medicines and treatments.
However, NHS confidentiality campaigners MedConfidential believe that the list released by HSCIC is not complete.
The group claim that the list fails to list companies known to be holding significant amounts of patient data under ongoing commercial licences, and police forces.
A MedConfidential freedom of information request revealed that police forces routinely request data about patients from HSCIC, and that data has been released in dozens of instances within the last year
Phil Booth, coordinator of medConfidential, said: “HSCIC continues in its ridiculous assertion that pseudonymised data is not sensitive or identifiable when tools its customers have built show you can track individuals visit by visit through hospital – and with information published in press reports, social media posts or the date your child was born make it possible to pick out a named individual and read off their entire record.
“Billions of patient records continue to be sold for commercial use without patients’ knowledge or consent, using as justification the very law that minsters have said provides additional safeguards.”
HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “By placing this register before the public the HSCIC is taking an important step towards the full transparency needed to help the public gain confidence in the services we provide.
“We are absolutely committed to encouraging scrutiny of our work and we welcome feedback on today’s register, which is important towards informing the structure and clarity of future publications and indeed to the organisation as it develops
“This is about ensuring citizens and patients are clear about how data is used to improve the health and social care received by them directly and by communities as a whole.”