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How we use your data

The importance of medical records to improving public health
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Research is important to the NHS and benefits us all, whether we are fit and healthy or suffering from an illness or condition. Research helps us to understand the cause of disease, prevent us from becoming ill, develop safe treatments and improve the health care we receive.

Whenever you visit your doctor or use an NHS service, your electronic health record   is updated. This record contains important information about your health and describes the care that you have received. This information in health records is vital for medical research.

For 30 years, hundreds of GP practices across the UK have contributed information in patient records to the CPRD to support medical research to improve patient and public health including:

Answering important questions about what causes illness and how to prevent and treat it

Monitoring the safety of vaccines and medicines

Understanding possible side effects of treatments in patients

Only anonymised patient data is provided to researchers. Read more about how this anonymised data has been used for patient and public benefit.

Protecting your identity and confidentiality

Your information is protected in the following ways:

  • You cannot be identified from the information sent to CPRD from GP practices. CPRD never receives any personal identifying details from your GP such as your name, address, NHS number or date of birth
  • CPRD only provides anonymised health data to researchers
  • Data can only be used for research to improve patient and public health
  • All research applications must be reviewed and approved by an expert independent scientific committee
  • CPRD is reviewed each year* to make sure its services meet ethical and legal requirements
  • Data is held securely by CPRD and researchers must follow strict terms and conditions when carrying out any research
You can opt out

You have the right to opt out of anonymised information from your health records being used in medical research. If you do not want your GP practice to share information from your health record with CPRD, let your doctor know. Opting out of sharing your health records will not affect the direct care that you receive.

Researchers and government regulators depend on the data collected by CPRD to safeguard public health and monitor drug safety. If large numbers of patients or particular types of patients choose not to share anonymised health information for research, the information in CPRD will not truly represent the UK population. This situation may lead to unreliable evidence from research aimed at answering important public health questions.

 

*By the Health Research Authority, the Multicentre Research Ethics Committee and NHS Digital.