Over the past couple of days there has been a lot of press coverage over our medical records at our GP’s surgery being passed over to a database company without permission of the patient. I recently received an e-mail from a worried reader of the B26 webpage which I have included below.
I don’t know if you are aware, but a new law comes into force in March, which compels all GPs to allow access to our private medical records – including our names, addresses, illnesses etc to private medical records private company called Datacare. They don`t need our permission to do so. Datacare can then sell the information on. It isn`t to do with the treatment we get, or passed to hospital staff – it is for commerce only and market research. A leaflet is coming round soon, but deliberately doesn’t include an opt-out form. Once started, you cannot opt-out and the health care authority can do what they wish with our information. (Concerned resident, Sheldon)
As I wasn’t aware of this situation I e-mailed the MP for Yardley, John Hemming, and this was his reply to me.
My personal view is that medical research is generally a good thing and we should not be trying to prevent people from inventing new and useful drugs. I don’t think that names are being provided as part of any data. However, I am getting precise details from the minister. (John Hemming MP, Yardley Constituency)
In the Daily Mail on Thursday the 5th February, there was an article by Dr Gordon Gancz from Oxford with the heading “I won’t give in to the NHS Thought Police who want to sell your private records”. Dr Gancz had received an e-mail from NHS England’s Thames Valley Area Team regarding an article he had published on his practice website indicating his intention to opt his patients from the scheme unless they contact him to opt in. The e-mail went on to say that they believe any GP who prevents the care.data extraction by opting out part or whole of his list without their consent is in breach of their contract.
Dr Gancz is very angry by their attitude and bullying tactics and went on to say. “After 38 years of faithful service to the NHS, I find this sort of managerial bullying ill-judged, provocative and seriously annoying”. The proponents of this scheme say there is nothing to worry about and say that our names will be removed and the remaining data will be totally ‘anonymised’. There is they say absolutely no way that anyone with access to the database will be able to identify individuals from the vast jumble of medical data. However, in one of the states in America where they had similar information for medical insurance purposes, it took a graduate in computer studies, armed with an electoral roll, only a short time to put patients and their medical records back together again.
There are a great many very clever people out there with computer knowledge who are able to find out almost any information they want about all most anything they desire. It doesn’t fill me with great confidence when I read these statements that our information is safe and nobody can access it. The decision is yours if you wish to opt out, just click on the link below.