‘Risk of data breaches’ with NHS reforms

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Allowing patients to access their records online could pose a number of problems

With initiatives such as the G-Cloud being touted as one way to improve the efficiency of the nation’s public services, reform is very much on the agenda as the coalition look to cut costs and implement new technologies.

But as with changes to any system, there are also new challenges that arise, and it appears that attempts to reform the NHS could leave the organisation’s servers more prone to data breaches.

That’s according to a report from Public Servant, which says that the efforts to digitalise records could mean patient details are more likely to be exposed if contractors do not take the need for stringent security measures seriously.

"I would suspect we are about to see an epidemic of data breaches involving third party suppliers who haven’t taken the appropriate care or installed the appropriate security measures to protect patient data," said Robin Smith, an NHS information governance chief.

While secure online document storage is considered a good way to safeguard any files stored in virtual hard drives, it seems that there is some doubt over the ability of external companies to provide the necessary guarantees when it comes to keeping the public’s data safe.

Designed to allow people to access their records online, the scheme could be a way of increasing the ease with which Brits can view their personal medical details, but if any significant breaches of the system occur then trust in the process is likely to wane quickly.

Marc Lee, EMEA sales director at Courion, added: "Giving all NHS patients secure online access to their records by 2015 is hugely ambitious."

Should the initiative prove successful, it appears that much will depend upon the necessary data protection methods being installed to ensure that the public’s medical records are not compromised once the new service is fully operational.

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