Public attitudes to organisations and NHS data

(Published to the use MY data site on 2019-07-02)

National Data Guardian poll findings: public attitudes to organisations innovating with NHS data

Dame Fiona Caldicott, the National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care, has today released the results of a poll on public attitudes to NHS organisations working with partners to use data to develop new medicines and technologies to improve health.

The polling, which was undertaken with more than 2,220 people in England, tested what the public thought would be fair when partnerships with universities or private companies result in new discoveries that could be traded commercially. It presented a range of benefits that result from such partnerships, including improved care for patients, financial benefits for the NHS and profits being made by partner organisations.

To give some headline findings, the poll found strong support for the idea that the NHS and patients should benefit from partnerships with universities and private companies. For example:

  • 58% felt it is fair that the NHS shares in a profit with a partner university, and 56% with a partner private company
  • 73% agreed the NHS should benefit in other ways eg, through getting access to new technologies or medicines at a reduced cost
  • 77% agreed that the "main benefit for NHS patients is improved care and treatment"

However, views on profits being made by partners were less clear:

  • 49% agree or strongly agree that it is fair that a profit is made by a partner university, and 51% by a partner private company
  • A significant proportion neither agreed or disagreed that it is fair that a profit is made by a partner university (41%) or a partner private company (36%)

Dame Caldicott has suggested that the proportion of respondents neither agreeing or disagreeing with questions may be because these are issues that have not been yet discussed sufficiently with the public.

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