Professor Sir Chris Whitty explains how data can be used to improve healthcare

Chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty has written an article in The Times newspaper on how using data effectively and safely can improve patient care and bolster research.

He pointed out the three purposes of data, which if done properly, can improve healthcare now or in the future. The first is for direct patient care and sharing data between different parts of the NHS and different healthcare professionals.

The second is to improve the effectiveness of the NHS and the third is to collate data for medical research to improve healthcare in the future. Whitty said: "The more complete the data for all of these uses, the more effective current and future healthcare will be. By allowing the use of our data we benefit ourselves and others, but we also have an absolute expectation that these data will be kept securely, privately and only used for legitimate purposes."

He pointed out how Covid highlighted the importance of using data integrated from patients across the NHS - "The more inclusive of everyone the data are, the easier it is for the NHS to make sure its resources are used efficiently to optimise healthcare for all of us".

Whitty said: "The NHS has a responsibility to use data to improve individual patient care, its own effectiveness and support research. When we withhold our data from the NHS this can only reduce the effectiveness of care for us and others now, and medical advances for others in the future."

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