Health Care Data

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Bim Afolami: As many Members have said, this is the 70th anniversary week of the NHS, and there is no better time to talk about this Bill. I will focus in my brief speech on three areas.

The first is that personal medical data about ourselves and our families are, to many of us, the most important thing we have. It is personal and emotional information, which if stolen would be incredibly valuable to criminals or nefarious organisations that may wish to use it for their own purposes. It is therefore critically important that by establishing this post in statute we strengthen the security of that personal information and data that we all cherish so much.

Connected with that is the question of trust: trust from our constituents—the people of this country—that their data will be handled securely in a world where online crime and other dangers to that data are proliferating far beyond what we could have imagined 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Establishing the post in statute will significantly improve the trust individuals have in the system and in the protection of their own personal data.

Finally, there is the question of accountability. One of the difficult aspects of being a Member of Parliament is that we are often called to account for things we do not control, or indeed the Government do not control. This Bill sets out the accountability of the individual responsible for safeguarding individuals’ data. That accountability helps contribute to trust, and what better way to achieve that than by establishing the post in statute?

We heard from my hon. Friend Alan Mak about the importance of technology in the NHS, and indeed in the world, today. The NHS’s data source—aided not just by the people of this country and their various ailments but by the structure of the NHS—is an incredibly valuable resource for improving the lives of people in this country, because of what we can do with that data in the context of technology. The Bill will help to strengthen that position.

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