Control of patient information in the COVID-19 era

The control of patient information (COPI) notices have had significant positive impacts on COVID-19 - related research, but the success of future reforms to the use of CPI relies on building trustworthiness.


From our live panel discussion, it’s clear that COPI notices are an important area for continued scrutiny, both from a researcher perspective, but also an ethical and public point of view.

View the panel webinar here.

The extension by the UK Government of measures for the lawful processing of confidential patient information (CPI) for COVID-19 purposes is likely to have been welcomed by researchers. Introduced early in the pandemic, and aimed at enabling faster access to high quality data for crucial COVID-19 research this is the third extension of the four control of patient information (COPI) notices.

This PHG Foundation report finds that the COPI notices have had significant positive impacts on genomic and medical research, in particular through streamlining access to confidential patient information for research purposes. 

However, any future extension, or exception for COVID-19 purposes, should be clear about its scope, potential benefits and harms. 

In Regulation and use of confidential patient information for genomic and medical research during and post COVID-19  we identify a set of ethical and legal considerations that need to be taken into account by policymakers. 

We conclude that the success of future reforms to the use of CPI will rely on building trustworthiness through transparency and meaningful engagement. 

This report is independent research commissioned and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Research Programme

Hear Colin Mitchell, Acting Head of Humanities, speak about the COPI notices in the video below.

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