HRA to take over research access to patient information
The Department of Health (DoH) has announced new measures to support decisions on access to private health data.
All requests for access to personal patient information will be filtered through a new body, the Health Research Authority (HRA). This will cut down on the impracticalities surrounding gaining individual consent during research projects.
At the moment, the health secretary is advised by the Ethics and Confidentiality Committee of the National Information Governance Board (NIGB) on which research projects should have access to sensitive data.
Under the new proposals, NIGB’s function will be replaced by the HRA. The health secretary will still be responsible for making decisions on applications that are not research related.
Lord Howe, health minister, said, “It is good news for patients and medical researchers that there will be a single place from which this important advice is provided.”
Janet Wisely, chief executive of the HRA, has emphasised the importance of a smooth transfer of responsibilities between the two bodies. She went on to emphasise the benefits of centralising the decision making process to the HRA.
She said, “The transfer of the approval for use of confidential data without consent for research purposes, under section 251, will enable further improvements to protect the interests of patients and the public, whilst making it easier to do good quality, ethical research in the UK.”