Public want data stored in UK amid security concerns


A VMware study has revealed that over half of the UK public trust the NHS to store and analyse their patient data safely, but where that data is stored is of pressing concern. Interestingly, 56% do not trust the NHS to use AI to analyse their data – even if it would help to deliver results faster.

Indeed, 87% of the UK public (of a study of 2,000 citizens) believes it is important that their NHS patient data be stored within the United Kingdom. However, 39% think data being stored in the country’s national borders would ensure it complies with UK data privacy regulations, and 22% do not trust other countries to safeguard their data to the same standard as the UK.

Meanwhile, 21% think their data will be less susceptible to foreign cybersecurity threats or access to foreign entities if stored within the UK.

Overall, the VMware study has revealed a good level of trust in the NHS when it comes to storing and analysing patient data, with 59% confident in the NHS’s ability to safeguard their sensitive information – welcome news to hear as the National Health Service marks its 75th year.

It is not just individuals who feel thus, either. According to recent IDC research, businesses share a similar attitude, with 42% of business leaders “very or extremely concerned” about critical data being managed by US cloud providers.

Of note is that 62% have expressed that their current clouds do not meet data sovereignty requirements. Indeed, many NHS and social care providers use non-national public clouds, meaning that patient data isn’t necessarily hosted in the UK or a national border, but by “a provider currently deemed adequate by the UK”. This means that the data could be subject to external jurisdictional control. Only last month, NHS England awarded a new contract to US data analytics company Palantir to transition existing NHS projects into a new federated data platform (FDP).

Guy Bartram, cloud evangelist EMEA at VMware, said: “This consumer opinion matters, as it echoes business sentiment. These findings demonstrate the increasing importance of data integrity and sovereignty in helping the NHS, among other highly regulated countries, realise and unlock the true value of their sensitive and critical data.”

Bartram continued: “By embracing cloud sovereignty, the NHS can build public trust and assertively maintain governance, fortify data protection, and help unlock the true value of critical and sensitive patient data in delivering patient services.”

Darren Adcock, senior product manager at Redcentric, noted: “While there are vast rewards to be harvested through applying AI to healthcare data, we have to remember that each datapoint relates to a patient, and every patient should trust that their privacy is maintained.”

Adcock further commented: “By harnessing the power of AI and advanced technologies within a secure and sovereign cloud framework, the NHS ensures groundbreaking advancements in healthcare never compromise patient privacy and trust. Sovereign clouds serve as a pivotal enabler, allowing the NHS to drive progress responsibly, ethically, and with the utmost dedication to patient well-being.”

However, the general public hold diverse opinions when it comes to AI in healthcare, with 45% fine with its use for improved services, and 44% happy if the NHS uses it to process their patient data to speed up diagnostic test results, but concerns remain: 25% stated outright that they are against the NHS using AI to process their patient data.

Image by jaydeep_ from Pixabay.