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2 Feb 2009

Government to store patients' DNA on NHS computers

Health minister Dawn Primarolo has a long-term objective to put people's genetic profiles on a new NHS database

The Government has admitted it wants to store patients’ DNA samples on the new NHS computer system.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo says her ‘long-term objective’ is to put people’s genetic profiles on the £12billion Connecting For Health database.

And Prof Dame Sally Davies, chief scientific adviser at the Department of Health, admitted the Government was ‘determined’ to proceed with the plan.

The Connecting For Health register – due to come online in 2012 – will hold the electronic medical records of everyone in the UK.

But many fear it will breach patient confidentiality, as a million doctors, nurses and receptionists will have access to it. The surprising admissions came out of a House of Lords inquiry into genetic medicine last month.

When asked if it was ‘valuable to combine genetic data with personal medical data’, Prof Davies replied: ‘The Government is absolutely determined to exploit this research opportunity.’

When Ms Primarolo was asked if it was likely the database would one day hold patients’ DNA, she said: ‘I think the long-term objective would be yes.’

But Jane Kaye, a geneticist from Oxford University, said: ‘This is of grave concern. Who will have access to this database, and for what purpose?’

The Department of Health said: ‘We have no intention of taking decisions on providing research access to genetic information without proper debate about consent and confidentiality.’

Source: Daily Mail
A very British dude: Dawn Primarolo

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