Trust sells Somerset patient records

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust was formed on 1 April this year. It is the result of a merger between Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. The former runs the community hospitals and mental health services across the whole of Somerset. the latter is the trust that runs Musgrove Hospital in Taunton.

The Trust employs over 9,000 employees.

Today it announced that it has “sold” patient records to a medicare company, Sensyne plc. Under the agreement anonymised patient records will be passed to Sensyne to enable their research. The idea is that the anonymised data can be used by AI and machine learning to speed up research.

In total1.1 million unique patient records from a patient population of approximately 600,000 people are involved.

In return the NHS trust will receive shares representing 1.11% of Sensyne, which at this morning’s valuation were worth £1.78m. In addition Sensyne will pay £250,000 per annum for the data. That’s equivalent to a total of £3.033m across the 5 year period.

So if you ever wondered what your medical records were worth…. It equates to approximately £5 per patient.

The deal begs several substantial ethical questions, these we will investigate further in our January edition.


  • Just how anonymised are these patient records?

    Last time around the national NHS data sharing scheme left Postcode and Date of Birth in the so called anonymised data and it is then a simple step to match that data with the Electoral Roll or other records held privately to identify the person.

    I withheld permission for my NHS medical records to be shared without proper safeguards and I was told so did every GP in my practice. I have seen nothing to change my mind.

    Why is “our” Somerset NHS Trust sharing data with a private company when this should be to a National standard? How was this company selected and is the contract open for scrutiny?

    Is my National opt out of MY private health data still being respected?

    No-one is against altruistic data sharing for the common and greater good for health and medical research but as soon as money pops up in commercial deals, I am suspicious.

    A quick Google came up with this story in the public domain:

    The sorry, sorry, sorry story of Lord Drayson’s start‑up,

    Sensyne Health Chairman can’t apologise enough for boardroom failings

    When Lord (Paul) Drayson floated his newest start-up on the market two years ago, he promised to realise the potential of artificial intelligence in healthcare in an “ethical way”.

    Sensyne Health raised £60m with a valuation of £225m and promised to help Britain’s creaking health system reap rewards from valuable patient data.

    Today, that vow rings hollow. The shares have plummeted 72.3% to 51p, valuing Sensyne at £65.6m, and Drayson, 59, a former science minister, is left fighting for his reputation. The company is on its fourth chairman and is in the midst of a corporate governance crisis after paying undisclosed bonuses to Drayson and its finance chief.

    Drayson has repeatedly declined to answer questions — leaving his interim chairman, Sir Bruce Keogh, to make the apologies. Keogh, former medical director for NHS England, said he was “really sorry” the company had got its processes wrong.

    “I’m sorry for the investors, I’m sorry for the people who work in the organisation, and I’m sorry it has had an impact on the reputation of the organisation,” he said. “It’s important that the people who invest in us and who share their data trust us.”

    Drayson, a former amateur racing driver, established Sensyne as Drayson Health in March 2018. It is among the companies seeking to exploit patient data for commercial gain. Experts at EY predict that this could be worth up to £10bn a year if partnerships with big corporates translate into real cash for the NHS. However, opening the doors to one of Britain’s most fiercely guarded institutions presents politicians, doctors and patients with an ethical dilemma: who owns the data and — more importantly — who should benefit from it?

    Governance concerns at Sensyne raise questions over whether the company is the right custodian.

    Sensyne has so far signed a £5m, two-year agreement with Bayer, the German giant, to help find a new treatment for cardiovascular disease, and with Swiss pharma group Roche to work on clinical trials. The company has also signed a research deal with the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. However, Sensyne’s progress has been slowed by a series of corporate governance gaffes.

    In October, it was forced to reveal that it had paid about £1m of undisclosed bonuses. The cash, including £850,000 for Drayson, was not declared to its nominated adviser, Peel Hunt, and was only revealed 10 months later.

    At the time, Peel Hunt said it had given a “preliminary view” that investors were unlikely to react favourably to the bonuses, which included £200,000 for Lorrie Headley, 41, chief financial officer. They should have been disclosed because they constituted related-party transactions.

    The bonuses were proposed by Charles Swingland, then interim chairman. Swingland, formerly general counsel at Drayson’s vaccines start-up PowderJect, was not deemed independent because of his previous relationship with the founder, thus the company had not complied with the governance code.

    At Sensyne’s annual meeting in October, 28.7% of investors voted against its pay report. Drayson and his wife, Elspeth, who are the two biggest investors, accounted for more than half the votes in favour.

    Sensyne apologised for failing to consult properly and withdrew its pay policy with regard to Drayson for the current financial year. He will receive a nominal salary of just £1 for the rest of the financial year to the end of April, instead of the £250,000 he would have got, and any bonus must be approved by investors.

    Weeks later, the third chair, Annalisa Jenkins, resigned. (Sensyne’s original chairman, Sir John Bell, had quit after just a few months over a conflict of interest.)

    Drayson attracts controversy. He started out in biotech more than 25 years ago with PowderJect, which developed technology for needle-free injections. However, this was never launched, and Drayson snapped up traditional vaccines instead. He won a government contract in 2002 to supply smallpox vaccines weeks after giving money to the Labour Party. The National Audit Office investigated, and concluded that ministers had not been aware of the donation when awarding the contract.

    PowderJect was sold to Chiron, an American rival, for $800m in 2003.

    Now Drayson, who is on the board of Airbus, wants to repeat this success with Sensyne — which hands NHS trusts an equity stake and a portion of revenues. However, the company has burnt through almost half the money raised in its listing.

    Half-year results showed a pre-tax loss of £9.9m, down from £10.3m a year earlier. Sensyne’s annual sales are expected to be £2m.

    Sensyne’s liquidity has been constricted by its narrow investor base, which included stricken fund manager Neil Woodford.

    Drayson has refused to speak publicly about the fiasco, despite being founder and chief executive.

    Keogh, who has hired headhunters from Spencer Stuart to search for a new chairman and directors, is keen to avoid a repeat of the past few weeks. Pay will be benchmarked against rivals. “We got the process wrong last time,” he admitted. “It’s not fair on the people who invested in us.”

    However, those close to Drayson do not expect him to be down for long. “Paul is a force to be reckoned with — he’s used to getting his own way,” said an industry source.

  • Like. hold the bus a god damn minute.
    How are they allowed to ‘sell’ personal data when we have enough trouble accessing our own data

Leave a Reply