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Statement: Use of data by PA consulting

March 03, 2014

The NHS Information Centre (NHS IC) signed an agreement to share pseudonymised Hospital Episodes Statistics data with PA Consulting  in November 2011. 

This included Hospital Episode Statistics on Admitted Patient Care (1999/00 to Provisional 2011/12), Outpatient (2003/4 to Provisional 2011/12) and A&E (2007/8 to Provisional 2011/12). This agreement lasted to November 2012 and was amended in December 2012 to extend to November 2015.

The agreement obliged PA Consulting to abide by conditions to protect the confidentiality of the data, including restricting the data to a named list of individuals, a prohibition on sharing any information with risk of identifying individuals and a requirement to destroy the data after the agreement end date.

PA Consulting used a product called Google BigQuery to manipulate the datasets provided and the NHS IC  was aware of this.  The NHS IC  had written confirmation from PA Consulting prior to the agreement being signed that no Google staff would be able to access the data; access continued to be restricted to the individuals named in the data sharing agreement.

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