Tories want local, third-party health records

healthcare IT

The Conservative Party has detailed its plans for health care records, saying people should be allowed to share digital records with third-party providers such as Google.

In addition, records would be held locally, as the Conservatives would ditch centralised health databases if elected.

Tory leader David Cameron has previously suggested letting health records be managed by a firm like Google could be the way forward an idea that was trashed by his own party member David Davis, who said it was "dangerous."

Speaking on the BBC's Today Show, Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien said it's not about handing over records to Google that was never the plan. In fact, the firm doesn't even operate its health records arm in the UK.

Instead, O'Brien said the Conservatives "wouldn't be falling into the same trap as the government of selecting just one supplier."

At the moment, the government's health record plans are years behind schedule. Two of the four suppliers for the NHS programme for IT have bowed out.

The Conservative plan is to let NHS patients choose where their records are held from any "willing" supplier that offers a system that's interoperable with the health service. O'Brien said there would be a range of suppliers. He said the party has "not said we'd be handing the contract over to Google or anyone else."

O'Brien said allowing multiple suppliers would mean the government doesn't have to invest in developing systems, and people would have access to edit their own records. He added that locally managed data would be more secure than current public centralised databases.

"What really matters is if you held the data locally it is more likely to be protected than at the moment this mass central database... which is causing not only problems in delivery but in has a much greater security risk," he said.