‘Our health data is about to flow more freely, like it or not’: big tech’s plans for the NHS

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The government is about to award a £480m contract to build a vast new database of patient data. But if people don’t trust it, they’ll opt out – I know, because I felt I had to

Last December, I had an abortion. Most unwanted pregnancies set a panic-timer ticking, but I was almost counting down the seconds until I had to catch a flight from London, where I live, to Texas, where I grew up, and where the provision of abortion care was recently made a felony. You bleed for a while after most abortions, and I was still bleeding when I boarded the plane home for Christmas.

Going to Texas so soon after the procedure made me consider where the record of my abortion – my health data – would end up. When I phoned an abortion clinic in late November to book an appointment, one of the first questions staff asked was: “May we share a record of your treatment with your GP?”

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