Medical academic

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Research body set to give DH advice on data decisions

Medical academics have welcomed confirmation that the HRA (Health Research Authority) will provide expert advice in relation to accessing identifiable patient data for research.

The HRA, established to promote the interests of patients and the public in health research, will take over the expert advice function currently performed by the National Information Governance Board, which is being scrapped next April.

All researchers wanting access to identifiable patient data without consent — when it is impractical to gain it, for example, or anonymising data is not enough — currently seek the health secretary’s approval.

The HRA will be able to decide which research requests should be approved on the health secretary’s behalf, and will advise on applications for anything other than research purposes.

BMA medical academic staff committee chair Michael Rees said: ‘We understand the HRA intends to improve the advice given to researchers in this area, and to consult with stakeholders on how to take this function forward.

‘We look forward to working closely with it in the development of its work.