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Health leaders welcome EDPB’s opinion on adequacy of UK’s data protection standards

Opinion ‘paves way’ for sharing of health data between EU and the UK

Health leaders have welcomed the opinion adopted by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) regarding the adequate protection of personal data in the UK.

The EDPB has published its opinion on the European Commission’s draft adequacy decisions for the UK, recognising the adequacy of data protection standards in the UK.

The EDPB’s adequacy decision will need to be approved by EU member states through the European Council before it can be formally adopted, however.

Even so, Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation has said the opinion paves the way for “uninterrupted sharing of relevant health data between the EU and UK”.

She added: “Recognition of the adequacy of UK data protection standards is instrumental in addressing health threats such as COVID-19 and the delivery of cross-border health and social care. Crucially, data adequacy also provides the conditions for UK and EU researchers to co-operate on clinical trials and other health research, and in turn, save and improve lives.”

The EDPB said that there are key areas of alignment between the EU and the UK on data protection, as the UK had implemented the GDPR into national law before leaving the EU.

EDPB chair Andrea Jelinek commented that this alignment would need to continue in the future if the adequacy decision is to continue, adding that she welcomed the EC’s decision to monitor the UK’s data protection regime.

The EDPB also stated that the UK government has indicated its intention to develop ‘separate and independent policies in data protection’, which may possibly ‘diverge from EU data protection law’.

‘This possible future divergence might create risks for the maintenance of the level of protection provided to personal data transferred from the EU,’ stated the EDPB in its draft opinion.

‘Therefore, the European Commission is invited to closely monitor such evolutions from the entry into force of its adequacy decision and take necessary actions including by amending and/or suspending the decision if necessary.’

Despite these challenges, the draft opinion “gives the green light to UK data protection standards”, said McCay.

“We hope the draft data adequacy decision will be approved, and that the NHS and European health care systems can continue to benefit from having access to each other’s health data where needed, as it will support the development of new treatments and improve patient safety and care,” she added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

21st April 2021

From: Regulatory

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