Our colleagues at Ernst & Young have valued the NHS data at £9.6bn per year. Note however, that this includes operational savings, improved patient outcomes and benefits to the wider economy - so not just selling the data to the highest bidder. 

Considering this is not an amount to be sniffed at (and that could be a handy source of revenue for a currently underfunded NHS) it is no wonder that the NHS is thinking about realising the value of healthcare data. 

Before we all start panicking that this means that we're selling the NHS to big pharma companies (and scrapping the GDPR altogether) let's take a step back and consider:

Can the NHS share patient data under current privacy rules? Yes, subject to certain limitations and safeguards. 

Does this mean that a blank cheque exists for the NHS to sell patient data? No, there are strong restrictions around sharing all types of personal data, including sensitive personal data, under current laws.

Can this be done in a way that (a) protects patients' privacy, (b) improves the NHS' services, (c) helps the development of science and (d) financially aids the NHS and all patients? Yes, it can. 

Do we need to panic? At least from a privacy standpoint, not for the time being.