Health committee calls for immediate ban on use of 'unacceptable' agreement

NHS Digital must put an immediate stop to patient data-sharing deal with the Home Office for immigration enforcement, MPs have said.

The deal, which was put on official footing last year, allows the Home Office to ask for non-clinical NHS information - like date of birth or last known address - for suspected immigration offences.

During a heated evidence session earlier this month, doctors and patient groups told the Commons Health Committee that NHS Digital was operating to a "lower standard of confidentiality" than rest of the NHS, and risked damaging public trust and deterring migrants from seeking healthcare.

In a withering letter (PDF) to NHS Digital chief exec Sarah Wilkinson, published today, the committee's chair urged the body to cease sharing data with the Home Office and “immediately withdraw” the Memorandum of Understanding that underwrites the deal.

Chairwoman and former GP Sarah Wollaston slammed NHS Digital for carrying out an “inadequate consultation” on the deal that didn’t hear the concerns of NGOs, the General Medical Council and the National Data Guardian.

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