NHS patients set to lose important controls over their private medical recordsPatients will only be able to request that their data is not passed onInformation which could identify a patient could be used
Campaigners say changes would amount to ditching patient confidentiality
00:28 GMT, 29 March 2013
07:40 GMT, 29 March 2013
Under proposed changes to the NHS constitution, patients will not have a veto over records being used for reasons unrelated to their own treatment
NHS patients are set to lose important controls over their private medical records, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Under proposed changes to the NHS constitution, patients will not have a veto over records being used for reasons unrelated to their own treatment.
Instead they can only ‘request’ that the data is not passed on.
Worryingly, it also allows information which could identify a patient to be used without them having the chance to object.
Privacy campaigners said the changes amount to abandoning the principle of patient confidentiality within the health service.
At the same time as loosening controls on records, ministers have agreed to a huge NHS data collection programme which could go ahead within weeks.
GPs will be forced to hand over vast swathes of information from their patient databases including cholesterol levels, body mass index, pulse rate, family health history, alcohol consumption and smoking status.
Diagnosis of everything from cancer to heart disease to mental illness would also be gathered.
Family doctors will also have to pass on patients’ dates of birth, postcodes and NHS numbers which will be ‘sucked up’ at regular intervals on the database.
Health officials have defended the scheme on the grounds that ‘transparency’ will improve efficiency.
But privacy groups point to the health service’s appalling record on losing patient information.
They say the constitutional changes and ‘data grab’ pre-empt the conclusions of a review of information management within the NHS.
A campaign group, MedConfidential, has been set up to protect patients’ confidentiality.
Phil Booth, the group’s co-ordinator and one of the key figures behind the successful campaign to ditch ID cards, said: ‘The message is clear: your confidential medical information isn’t yours any more – it belongs to the new NHS.
GPs will be forced to hand over vast swathes of information from their patient databases
‘The weasel words mean you’ll no longer be able to trust that what you say to your doctor will stay secret if you want it to.’
Officials have insisted names will not be attached and when information has been processed it will be deleted.
A law firm is hoping to bring a private prosecution against Sir David Nicholson on charges of manslaughter
They defend the changes in the name of ‘transparency’ and say information will be used to analyse demand for services and improve treatment.
Earlier this week the Government admitted there are ‘significant and widespread data protection concerns’ within the NHS.
It is estimated some 1.8million records were lost or stolen in a single year.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘NHS organisations have to balance their role of keeping important information confidential with the need to securely share information that could save lives.
‘How to achieve this balance will be informed by the NHS constitution and the Caldicott review, due to be published soon.’
Meanwhile, a law firm is hoping to bring a private prosecution against Sir David Nicholson on charges of manslaughter.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon is examining evidence against the NHS chief executive over the Stafford Hospital scandal.
A team is advising former investment banker Alan Edwards who aims to fund the case himself.
Solicitor Kate McMahon said: ‘It’s very worthwhile, as healthcare is one of the most important things for a modern society and it’s difficult to enforce accountability at the highest levels.’
A DoH spokesman said: ‘We see no basis for this case.’