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NHS chief backs Connecting for Health after data loss

27 December 2007

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The chief executive of the NHS is backing plans to allow patient records to be shared through a computer database.

It comes after confidential medical information relating to 168,000 people was lost by nine NHS trusts.

But David Nicholson said Connecting for Health will involve security measures “way beyond industry standards” to prevent any data breach.

He also said the plans call for linked regional databases, and not one single centralised point, which will also improve security.

GPs and other NHS employees will have to use a secret username, password and smartcard to access the details, and visibility will be “role-controlled”, so that each person can only see a small number of records relevant to their area of work.

Mr Nicholson acknowledged that “there are risks in all this”.

But he added: “This is a level of security way beyond what you have in internet banking, for example.

“There isn’t going to be a huge national database. What we are talking about here is a series of regional databases that are connected together.

“We are listening to what people say about security and we have a level of security now being built into the system, which is way beyond industry standard as far as healthcare is concerned.”

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