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Friday five: the top health stories this week

This week contaminated blood, cybersecurity, and Charlie Gard have dominated the news.

Inquiry into contaminated blood

The Prime Minister has announced an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal that left at least 2,400 dead in the 1970s and 1980s. The All-Party Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood recently released a report which found over 7,500 were infected by contaminated blood, a topic which was debated in Parliament this week. Read more on the BBC.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) rules against The Royal Free

The ICO ruled that the data of 1.6m patients that The Royal Free shared with Google as part of their DeepMind collaboration was done so illegally. Read the ruling and the ICO’s recommendations for trusts.

NHS cybersecurity

Widespread concerns have been raised over the cybersecurity of the NHS following the WannaCry attack in May. The Government has announced £21m of funding for major trauma centres to improve their cyber resilience as part of the Caldicott report released this week. The fact that doctors are using Whatsapp and Snapchat to share patients data ‘across the NHS’ – something that is currently banned under current NHS guidelines is also causing concern. Read more on the BBC. 

Public sector pay cap

Over the last week a large number of the Cabinet have been putting pressure on the PM to lift the NHS pay cap. There are mixed views across the parties about the future of NHS pay. Dr Dan Poulter, a Conservative MP believes it “can be lifted without costing Government much money”. Read more in The Independent.

Charlie Gard

This week terminally ill baby Charlie Gard’s parents have been in court to fight to overturn the High Court decision to turn off his life support. £1.3m has now been crowd funded to take Charlie to America for experimental treatment, which has been the topic of much debate across the medical profession. This story has caught the world’s interest with The Pope and Donald Trump tweeting their support for Charlie’s parents. Read the full timeline on Sky News.

 Quote of the week – David Aaronovitch on data privacy

“The NHS sees a million people every 36 hours. This creates incredible possibilities to learn about the health of the nation, what works and what fails, from diagnosis to care. We could have a self-educating healthcare system, learning all the time from its patients, and we don’t. This is possibly the biggest lost opportunity in modern Britain. That’s our real problem, not the frankly abstract question of patient data privacy.” – The Times

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