23 December 2007
After dozens of Heath Service trusts admitted “losing” the most personal information of tens of thousands of patients , campaigning group NO2ID , which has been critical of the NHS’s “Connecting for Health” programme as a danger to medical confidentiality, said that this is a predictable consequence of government policy. NO2ID urged more people to withdraw their consent for their medical records to be uploaded to the centralised “NHS Spine” database  and hospital doctors to fight the
bureaucratic drive to centralise all medical records.
Guy Herbert, NO2ID’s General Secretary said:
We are now starting to see the consequences of the Government obsession with information ’sharing’ and centralised IT in the NHS. If you care
about your privacy then keep your medical records between you and your doctor, and out of the hands of the Department of Health , if you can.
If it were really designed to help patients and clinicians, Connecting for Health would concentrate on creating secure methods of sending medical information from place to place as is was needed, giving the patient and the doctor control. The technology exists. Instead it is build round feeding the information you thought was confidential into the Department of Health bureaucracy – the so called ‘secondary uses system’ – and putting it at the disposal of NHS management.
Medical understanding now stops hospital doctors from spreading disease for bureaucratic convenience as they did in earlier centuries. They wouldn’t let the Department of Health institute a needle-sharing programme on grounds of ‘efficiency’. They need to fight for data hygiene too. Or worse is yet to come.
Notes for editors:
1) See, e.g. BBC News 23 Dec 2007: “Nine NHS trusts in England have admitted losing patient records in a fresh case of wholesale data loss by government services, it has emerged. Hundreds of thousands of adults and children are thought to be affected by the breaches, which emerged as part of a government-wide data security review.”
2) NO2ID is the UK-wide non-partisan campaign against ID cards and the database state. See http://www.no2id.net/dbstate.php for a list of ‘database state’ initiatives that NO2ID is actively opposing.
3) The NHS Confidentiality Campaign (an affiliate of NO2ID) explains more:
Its website includes a downloadable form letter you can send to your GP insisting your records are not uploaded to the spine:
4) The Department of Health insists that it owns your most intimate medical details. So, for example, the sensitive records held by sexual health clinics and psychiatric units is to be centrally consolidated, even where you are entitled to withhold them from your own GP.
See The Guardian, 6 July 2006: “Patients, not the state, own medical records, says GP”