The NHS has rolled out a scheme that sets out to understand more about a range of long term health conditions, including diabetes, that affect people across the UK.
The scheme allows the NHS to share patient medical data with over 40 medical charities and research organisations. This allows research organisations to spot patterns in disease development as well as to better research the effects that medications, and combinations of drugs, have on our health.
The data sharing will give the UK a much better opportunity to understand health conditions, to research possible causes and associations and ultimately to develop strategies to save lives. The scheme will also offer more opportunities for patients to take part in clinical trials.
Confidentiality is an important part of the scheme and you will be asked whether you allow your NHS number, date of birth and post code to be included on the record. If you choose to provide these three extra pieces of information, this improves the quality of research that can be undertaken as multiple records, such as hospital and GP records, can be matched up. Full records will only be used in rare emergencies cases, such as infectious disease outbreaks.
If you don’t wish to allow your NHS number, date of birth or post code to be available at all for the purposes of the research, you can opt to have this data trimmed out. If you are happy for this data not to be completely trimmed out, then you needn’t do anything. Households across the nation are being sent a leaflet explaining the scheme and to give people a chance to opt out if they wish.
Some of the charities and organisations taking part in the scheme include Diabetes UK, Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

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