‘OUR’ NHS has been forced to delay the start of its plan to ‘scrape’ data from 55million personal medical records held by GPs into a single database that will be available to academic and commercial third parties for a fee.
The topics that will be for sale include mental and sexual health, abuse, criminal records, ethnicity, gender, drug and alcohol history. The NHS promises that data will be anonymous.
The same idea was floated eight years ago, with a leaflet delivered to every household explaining the plan. There was a backlash and it collapsed. The government learned a lesson and this time round the scheme was launched during a pandemic with so little publicity that it bordered on secrecy. The NHS gave six weeks’ notice that the collection process would start on July 1, with no obligation on GPs to inform patients. It was possible to opt out but first you had to know about the scheme and second you had to return a form to your GP surgery by June 23 (next Wednesday).
Unfortunately for the NHS, privacy campaigners got hold of it and made a fuss. As a result, the start of the data collection has been postponed to September 1 and the June 23 deadline for opting out has disappeared, but it is still necessary to submit the form (which you can find here.)
We wonder if we can be confident in the promise of Our NHS to keep our data anonymous and untraceable, and how we can be sure that our opt-outs will be honoured.
Feel free to discuss this or anything else on your mind.