In a radical new initiative, the government could completely alter the way in which data relating to NHS patients is controlled, giving individual citizens the right to monitor and limit access to their own information, rather than leaving it in the direct care of the health service.
This news has been made public as part of a white paper published with the aim of creating a revolutionary new way of dealing with information, in an organisation which has been constantly fraught with data loss scandals and security breaches over the past few years.
The coalition government’s health minister, Andrew Lansley, has said that he wants to give patients greater control, not only over their private data, but also over how decisions are made about their treatment.
The plan involves allowing patients to have complete responsibility for records and then hand over relevant details via a central database whenever they were required, allowing them to use their discretion in divulging information.
The government hopes that by enabling patients to participate directly in the type of care they receive, they will be able to restore trust in the NHS and make the experience of receiving treatment more involving.
BSC Health head Matthew Swindells, said that while this would involve changes to the IT infrastructure of the NHS, it would have a wider impact than a simple restructuring of networks, creating a completely different information landscape.
Mr Swindells believes that by opening up the record to patients, it will be easier for people to find issues with the data and consequently make the necessary changes, resulting in a better service from the NHS.
Among the new powers for patients under the plans, will be the ability to select doctors and even procedures, once provided with the proper guidance from experts. The moves have been prompted after the publication of a consultancy, which involved over 5400 patients contributing different ideas and thoughts on their experience from within the NHS as it currently stands.