A government consultation on more open use of data has found strong support for increased transparency in public services. But health organisations have urged caution due to the potential for leaks of sensitive information.
The summary of responses to Making Open Data Real said: “Of the responses received, those submitted by organisations operating in the health and education sectors were particularly cautious regarding the potential for breaches in privacy and data protection as a result of open data.”
The Cabinet Office will now begin further work on the cross-public sector project, including a formal response to the consultation.
In a speech to the World Bank on Monday, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude also argued that publishing more performance data led to patients choosing better services.
“We are releasing public data,” Mr Maude said. “This is generally large routine datasets from real-time transport data to routine hospital activity data… For example in parts of the UK where the NHS has published data on local medical practices – thousands of patients have exercised their right to choice and moved to services which reported better standards.”
The claim was based on statistics from Barnsley, where 4,500 patients reportedly switched GPs after a local kitemark scheme was introduced in 2008.