The UK government has announced that it is to set up multi-million dollar eHealth Centers in a partnership between the government and charity groups.
The UK government is to set-up four eHealth so-termed “Centres of Excellence” in the cities of London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea, according to PharmaTimes. The aim of the centers is store and review UK electronic health records. The project will cost around $30 million (£19 million).
The announcement about the eHealth Centers was made by the UK minister for science David Willetts. Among the groups involved with the scheme is the Medical Research Council (MRC), which undertakes research into diseases and health protection.
This is a controversial project. Earlier in 2012, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that he was looking to amend the NHS Constitution to allow all NHS patients’ records to be used for research purposes, unless a patient opts out. The records, based on anonymous data, will be made available to universities and to pharmaceutical companies. The argument is that access to such research will speed up the development of new drugs.
According to the MRC, the four centers will compile data relating to conditions like diabetes and obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer and child and maternal health.
David Willetts is quoted by InPharm as saying “Thanks to the NHS and the UK’s world-leading research base, we are uniquely positioned to use patient data to study disease and develop better treatments.
“The eHealth centres are the first of their kind and have the potential to revolutionize health research. They will provide a vital insight into conditions affecting millions of people and ultimately bring benefits for patients.”