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NHSX has today published a draft data strategy: ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’ which, following the pandemic, aims to give patients more control of their health data and enables staff to make quicker, informed decisions to deliver better treatment.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“Sharing data safely across systems can be a real force for good, as we saw during the height of the pandemic when Government departments, local government and our health and care services collaborated quickly to reach unpaid carers to ensure they were prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The aim of the strategy to help patients easily access their health data is a positive step forward. Over the last 15 months we have seen unpaid carers harness technology to keep connected and manage the health appointments of the people they care for – although not without some challenges. This strategy could help many more better support their loved ones’ health needs.

“We welcome plans for data sharing by adult social care providers to improve care. The fact that the strategy recognises the role of unpaid carers and includes them throughout is critical to improving carers’ own health and wellbeing, supporting them in the care they provide and helping the wider health and care system.

“Carers say they don’t want to have to repeat information time and time again. As well as being exhausting and time consuming, mistakes can be made and opportunities to join up support can easily be lost. Sharing data safely and with the proper permissions could make this journey much smoother for them.

“It is vital that unpaid carers’ experiences helping older and disabled relatives access their health records are fully considered when finalising the strategy.”

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