The new data protection bill, which has kept the GMC and BMA on their feet due to the possible risk lingering around the confidentiality of patient data. As we know the Bill was presented to the House of Lords in September 2017 and it intends to change the data protection laws for the digital age. It is a step forward to ensure that UK is fully prepared after the Brexit (GOV.UK, 2017).
Europe’s new charter for the laws on data protection is known as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and from May 2018 it will operate on all the members of the European Union replacing the old data protection regulation of 1995. As the UK is heading for the Brexit, so the government is preparing for a successful exit from the EU by implementing the GDPR by introducing the new Data Protection bill. Clause 15 of this bill, permits the members to find out their individual needs when processing the data; in accordance with the legal agreement, functioning of the duty in public interest or as an application of official authority. The parliament has been requested to grant Government enormously broad control to modify the data sharing regulations (possibly includes health data) without having the information that how this authority will be utilized and if there would be any limitations. There is a major concern around the clause 15 of the Data Protection Bill as it is thought it would grant great power to the Government to modify the law behind sharing of medical data without much research. BMA and GMC are opposing and requesting a change in this clause so there is more clarification on who would have the power to make decision and how would it possibly impact the confidentiality of medical data (BMA, 2017).
BMA (2017) mentions in the House of Lords, report stage “The Lords’ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Select Committee 5 stated that the Government’s rationale for the new power is “an insufficient and unconvincing explanation for such an important power”, which is; inappropriately wide’”. Currently the Government is looking at this issue, as BMA (2017) states “Lord Ashton gave a “reassurance” that whilst the Government did not accept amendment 108A regarding medical confidentiality, “the Government are committed to looking at the issue of delegated powers in the round. I will certainly include that [amendment 108A] in that discussion”.
BMA seeks clarification related to the sensitive issue of sharing of health data. They believe if the clause 15 remains part of the Bill then it must clarify what protection would be put into practice to make sure that any secondary ruling body to the Bill will not put aside the legal duty on confidentiality.
BMA (2017) Data Sharing Bill. Available at: https://www.bma.org.uk/connecting-doctors/search?q=data%20sharing%20bill (Accessed: 28 January 2018)
GOV.UK (2017) Data protection bill 2017. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/data-protection-bill-2017 (Accessed: 28 January 2017)