Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) NHS Foundation Trust in West Sussex has signed a deal with IT services company Mastek to pseudonymise its data.
Mastek will implement its data privacy tool Kameleon on 35 IT systems at QVH that store confidential patient identifiable data (PID). Kameleon will process the source data and store the anonymised information within a shared repository.
Pseudonymisation is a process that enables the NHS to undertake secondary use of patient data in a legal and secure manner without breaching their privacy. All commissioners and providers of NHS care are now required to implement a pseudonymisation capability.
Dominic Bailey, head of information governance at QVC, said the tool has enabled the trust to pseudonymise its 35 interlinked IT systems. "As a result, certain identifiers are now automatically replaced from our patient-level data when it is used for any secondary-use purpose," he said.
But the British Medical Journal has criticised NHS computer systems which give researchers access to patient information without their consent.
Helen Wilkinson, spokeswoman for the NHS confidentiality campaign group The Big Opt Out, said: "Patients may not be honest with their doctors if they are concerned they may be identified and have something they don't want their family to find out about. Also, if they are giving the wrong information, this could mean their research is not valid."
The issue of data privacy in the NHS was highlighted last month when London Health Programmes (LHP), a medical research organisation based at the NHS North Central London health authority, lost a laptop containing unencrypted details of 8.63 million people.
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