Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 14 December 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
DeepMind
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord O'Shaughnessy on 6 December (HL11728), what explanation they have received regarding Google’s plans for DeepMind Health; what assurances they have received that data transferred as part of the integration of DeepMind Health into Google cannot be used by any Google subsidiary; and whether the adequacy of these any arrangements in this regard will be independently verified.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 20 December 2018

We have sought reassurance that none of the current contracts with National Health Service trusts will be transferred to Google, and any changes will require the agreement of the trusts. The patient data processed for Streams will remain controlled by the trusts, and will not be used for any purpose other than the provision of direct patient care, as specified in existing agreements.

We are working with DeepMind and Google as they consider how to provide assurance on the use of patient data as Streams grows into a global product. The Code of Conduct for Data Driven Technologies sets out the principles that we expect NHS trusts and industry partners to follow.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 22 November 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
DeepMind
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to Google about the abolition of DeepMind Health’s independent review committee following the integration of DeepMind Health into Google; and what assessment they have made of the impact on the confidentiality of NHS patients’ data of DeepMind Health no longer being a separate subsidiary of Google.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 06 December 2018

We will seek a full explanation from Google about its plans, including why they have halted the independent review panel and how they intend to replace this function.

We will work with regulators, including the Information Commissioner’s Office, and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to ensure anything that happens as a result of the transfer of Streams respects patients’ privacy and complies fully with the law.

I met with DeepMind recently and raised this issue with them.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 22 November 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
DeepMind
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information was provided to NHS patients whose data are held by DeepMind Health before that company was integrated into Google rather than being a separate subsidiary; and whether patients gave informed consent for the handling of their data to be changed.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 06 December 2018

At this moment in time no contracts have been signed or amended, or other arrangements put in place, and the Streams team have been open with us at the Department about their plans for the transition.

National Health Service trusts are the data controller and retain the responsibility for how the data is used and for gaining patient consent for any change of use.

We have received assurances from DeepMind that no Personally Identifiable Data has been transferred as a result of this corporate restructure.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 22 November 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
DeepMind
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what independent verification is in place to make sure that the NHS data handled by DeepMind Health will be used only for appropriate purposes now that DeepMind Health is no longer a separate subsidiary of Google but has been fully integrated.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 04 December 2018

We will work with regulators including the Health Research Agency, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Information Commissioner’s Office, and with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to ensure anything that happens as a result of the transfer of Streams respects patients’ privacy and complies fully with the law.

Asked on: 01 October 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust: DeepMind
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the cost to the public of inquiries by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), National Data Guardian, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and NHS Digital, resulting from the agreement for the Royal Free Hospital to provide data to DeepMind which the ICO found to be unlawful.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 15 October 2018

The Department has made no such estimate.

Q
Asked by Lord Freyberg
Asked on: 12 June 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
DeepMind
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any underlying data from the Royal Free London and Moorfields Eye hospitals used by DeepMind is subject to contractual constraints that would prevent other innovators from developing similar commercial algorithms using the same data.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 26 June 2018

These agreements were entered into with DeepMind locally and separately by the two trusts. We are not aware of any exclusivity in either set of contractual arrangements. The Royal Free’s contract with DeepMind Services Agreement between DeepMind Technologies Limited and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is publicly available, and a copy is attached.

The use of innovative technologies offers great opportunities to improve patient care, reduce pressure on clinicians and provide more efficient, sustainable and personalised health and care services. However, patients’ privacy and right to consent to the sharing of their data outside direct care must be respected and data must only be shared on the correct legal basis, and in line with guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office and the National Data Guardian.

Q
Asked by Lord Scriven
Asked on: 04 July 2017
Department of Health
Lords
Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the ruling by the Information Commissioner's Office on 3 July that the transfer of patient data from the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust to DeepMind was illegal, what guidance they will give to NHS trusts regarding the sharing of patient data.
A
Answered by: Lord O'Shaughnessy
Answered on: 11 July 2017

We expect to publish the Government’s response to the National Data Guardian’s review of data security, consent and opt-outs and the Care Quality Commission’s review Safe data, safe care shortly. This will provide information to the National Health Service and adult social care on sharing data in lawful, safe and secure ways. In addition we intend to publish summary guidance in the autumn on the current regulatory framework for NHS trusts and suppliers.

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