Opt-out by June 23rd – or you will be sharing your personal health information with others. How scary is that?
Here at the Waverley Web, we were all horrified at the suggestion that our personal health records – including sensitive information will soon be shared with third parties – unless we tell our GP’s otherwise.
The NHS say the plan will help them with research – and help them tackle health issues such as COVID. But do we really want our physical, sexual and mental health records shared with others?
GP records are the most detailed and sensitive medical records that exist, containing the history of events in an individual’s lifetime impacting their physical and mental health.
But, from 1 July a NHS Digital, says “data may be shared from the GP medical records about… any living patient registered at a GP practice in England when the collection started”.
NHS Digital – the health and social care system’s information and technology partner – will be able to take the following from your records:
- “Data about diagnoses, symptoms, observations, test results, medications, allergies, immunisations, referrals, recalls and appointments, including information about physical, mental and sexual health.”
- This will also include data about “staff who have treated patients”, and data “on sex, ethnicity and sexual orientation”, as well as other sensitive data.
Although NHS Digital states that patients’ data will be extracted from GP systems across England “from 1 July 2021”, its privacy notice states that individuals have until 23 June 2021 to opt-out.
While its press release on the matter states that people can “opt-out at any time”, the privacy notice states:
“NHS Digital will however still hold the patient data which was shared with us before you registered the Type 1 opt-out” – meaning that for anyone who has not opted-out by the time that their GP history is first extracted, the information taken will never be deleted.
It is likely that the majority of the population will not be aware of any of this. It will not know that the Government has commanded NHS Digital to instruct their GP to hand over a copy of their lifelong medical history to be sold – because the Government has taken the decision not to tell anyone!
When a similar GP data grab was attempted once before, junk mail leaflets were sent to households. That programme failed. This time, patients could and should have been written to, as millions of people have been throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
Did you get a letter seeking your consent? NO?- neither did we!
If a member of the public did happen to find out about this programme, including the opt-out, they would be forgiven for believing that NHS Digital would not sell their health and care data – because that is exactly what it states on its website, including a “myth-busting” fact-check about social media posts:
The concern is rising. And many of us are asking the Government to explain with whom exactly is this information to be shared?
In the past couple of days NHS Digital, which runs the services IT system said that only organisations with a ‘legal basis and legitimate need to use the GP database would have access to it.’ It also said that requests for access would be scrutinised by independent experts and GP representatives.
Does that make you feel more comfortable about the move?
The NHS is facing increasing criticism over plans to transfer £55million medical records to a database and share them with researchers and private companies.
Patients have just 19 days to fill out a form to opt-out. What we hear you cry! Fill in yet another perishing form and take it personally to your GP? Not e-mail it to them but schlep across your town or village and put it through the GP’s letterbox. What about the elderly and the disabled? Who is going to print the forms for them?
Here’s the Form. Our letters are already on their way!