Caldicott warns of ‘inappropriate’ transfer of 1.6m patient records

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The transfer of 1.6 million patient records to Google’s DeepMind Health company has an ‘inappropriate legal basis’, says the UK’s national data guardian.

In a letter leaked to Sky News, Dame Fiona Caldicott warned the Royal Free hospital in London, the partner hospital for Google’s company, that the transfer of patient records had not been for ‘direct care’ as they were initially used to test the Streams health app for acute kidney injury diagnosis.

She wrote: ‘Given that Streams was going through testing and therefore could not be relied up [sic] for patient care, any role the application might have played in supporting the provision of direct care would have been limited and secondary to the purpose of the data transfer.’

Trusts are allowed to transfer data for purposes of direct care, but all other reasons require approval from regulators.

The Royal Free and DeepMind say the provision of direct care using an app depends on a preliminary testing phase.

A DeepMind spokesperson said: ‘Safety testing is essential across the NHS, and no hospital would turn a new service live without testing it first.’

Commenting on the leaked letter, a spokesperson from the Royal Free said: ‘Real patient data ...