Ben Goldacre opted-out of UK data sharing procedure ensuing from privateness fears

Professor Ben Goldacre admitted that he opted-out of the controversial GP data sharing procedure.

The author of The Goldacre Overview, into the usage of well being data for learn and diagnosis, addressed the Residence of Commons Science and Expertise Committee on 11 Might well per chance presumably.

When requested if he had withdrawn consent for his GP data to be shared, he responded: “I did, because I know so mighty about how this recordsdata is frail and the contrivance other folks will also be de-anonymised, and also in fragment because within the previous, to a increased extent, I in actuality dangle been within the final public eye from doing public engagement work and I in actuality dangle associates who dangle had their data illegally accessed thru national datasets, no longer well being datasets.”

Goldacre said that a ministerial letter to GPs in July 2021 acknowledged the facts sharing programme would proceed “fully after that they had built a national depended on learn atmosphere (TRE) that can deal with the facts securely and develop it accessible to all legitimate customers, whereas mitigating the dangers.”

He added: “I’m assured that by doing that, that you just can maybe maybe presumably no longer fully mitigate risks, however commence as a lot as develop public believe.”


Goldacre known as the GP dataset “the jewel within the crown of NHS data” thanks to its granularity and comprehensiveness, which present “massive opportunities for mature tutorial learn; for diagnosis for service enchancment to show screen the standard, security and effectiveness of care; and for using life sciences innovation.”

On the other hand, he added that the formulation of pseudonymisation equipped “serious shortcomings” in conserving patients’ privateness and that TREs ought to be build in relate.


The GP data sharing procedure turn out to be intended to develop the scientific histories of higher than 55 million patients readily available to third events for learn and diagnosis. On the other hand 1.5 million other folks opted-out of the programme and it turn out to be delayed indefinitely following issues about privateness risks. 

An NHS conception in 2013 to put GP data in a central database under the Care.Data programme turn out to be also deserted in 2016 after confidentiality complaints.        


Goldacre said: “I believe it is a mistake to commence a extensive programme fancy that [the GP data sharing scheme] with out initially making it certain to patients exactly what the mitigations will be. I believe the national GP dataset is so granular and so total in its protection that it wouldn’t be appropriate to share it out of doorways of the TRE.

“So general, sure, I’d relate it turn out to be tainted to are trying to commence a programme fancy that before we had made a commitment that all data salvage admission to would fully be thru a depended on learn atmosphere. But that, as I understand it, is now policy, so we now dangle an awfully optimistic future earlier than us, in fragment because depended on learn environments don’t right style mitigate privateness risks; to boot they develop for a mighty more productive atmosphere for working with data.”

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