The man slated to be the government’s new “transparency tsar” believes “no-one who uses a public service should be allowed to opt out of sharing their records”.
The Financial Times reported last week that Tim Kelsey, founder of the health information business Dr Foster, is to join the government as a senior adviser on the use of public data.
The report said Mr Kelsey would be “charged with a fresh push to open up data on public services – in particular education, health and social care”.
At present NHS patients are able to opt out of the summary care record system which shares information across the service by informing their GP.
Mr Kelsey, who is currently a consultant with McKinsey, set out his views on the use of NHS and other public sector data in an article for Prospect magazine in 2009.
In it he stressed that, while patient confidentiality must be maintained at all times, “if we want to have good public services, we are going to have to trust them with our data”.
He added: “If our public services want us to pay for them, they will have to show us that they are using our data effectively and securely.”
Mr Kelsey, who also conceived and launched the NHS Choices service for the Department of Health, wrote: “If the next government, of whichever party, wants a better public sector it must encourage more use of personal data; not less.”
To achieve this, Mr Kelsey wrote that government must “pledge to publish as much new anonymised data as possible”.
He called for the removal of “legislative obstacles to sharing government databases” and for the government “to encourage businesses and charities to turn this data into things that people can use — from websites rating GPs to maps of local crime.”
Recognising this might meet resistance, he added: “The government should be ready to take on those lobby groups that have stood in the way of using data to rate public services.”