100 signatures reached
To: Jeremy Hunt
Stop Govt selling our confidential medical records and ID
Dear Mr Hunt
Please stop the sale of our medical records that is due to take place in just a few weeks. I understand you have written to my GP practice warning them that they can be prosecuted if they do not upload my records to the national database. I am told this is to improve my health care so that everyone who needs to can see my records. I am also told that you need to use the aggregated data of all patients for 'secondary uses' not directly linked to my personal care, like audit and business planning. So far so good.
Now that I know about it I have written to my GP and opted out of this upload.
But no-one I have spoken to has even heard of what you are intending to do and this is a scandal.
I have four main objections to your plans:
1. You intend to offer MY confidential medical records for SALE to private health insurance companies - WHY? I did NOT and do NOT give you my permission for this! These records are mine and my doctor's they were made in good faith that they would always remain confidential between me and my doctor - they do NOT belong to you. It is utterly scandalous that you feel at liberty to sell them even more so that you will offer them for a derisory £1
2. You are not taking responsiblity for this act, you are forcing my GP to write letters to patients to inform us of our right to opt out. This is your idea, not my GP's, you know that if you ran a national campaign to publicise patients' right to opt out, there would be outrage; if you really believed it was a decent and honourable thing to do you would not be hiding behind the GP's like this.
3. You cannot be sure what will happen to my data after it leaves my GP practice - none of us can. Members of your own party have described this as a 'honeypot of data' and said: "If hackers can take on Microsoft, how long until they get to the DH - a department which has never had a successful IT project?" This uploading is simply NOT SAFE.
4. Worst of all you will harm my relationship with my GP - I will not be going and telling him all my private business in future, I don't want the whole word knowing, even if it does mean he can no longer treat me properly. I don't want to be targeted with junkmail and phone calls by private healthcare and insurance companies according to my medical history.
Imagine the distress that could be caused to the elderly when they find that complete strangers know their private business. Imagine the possibilities for blackmail this could open to unscrupulous hackers. The potential for unintended consequences are rife, you are opening a veritable Pandora's box - and a box which belongs to us, the people, not you the government.
Why is this important?
Kevin Donovan of Defend the NHS says the following:
You may have read in the press or online (or more likely may not have heard) about the major health data collection exercise which the government has initiated. Under changes to legislation, your GP can now be required to upload personal and identifiable information from the medical record of every patient in England to central computer servers at the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Once this information leaves your GP practice, your doctor will no longer be in control of what data is passed on or to whom. And private companies will be able to buy your information for just £1 (ONE pound!).
This information will include diagnoses, investigations, treatments and referrals as well as other things you may have shared with your doctor including your weight, alcohol consumption, smoking and family history. Each piece of information will made identifiable by uploading it along with your NHS number, date of birth, post code, gender and ethnicity.
Health data has always been collected* but this time it’s different. NHS England – the body now in charge of commissioning primary care services across England – will manage and use the information extracted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre for a range of purposes, none of which are to do with your direct medical care. These ‘secondary uses’ include patient-level tracking and monitoring, audit, business planning and contract management.
Why should we worry? It seems clear that one hidden purpose of this exercise is to lubricate the galloping ‘marketisation’ of our health service, for example to allow health insurance companies to make huge profits from cherry-picking low risk patients for health cover. Over time, and as in the USA, if we can’t afford a health insurance premium (which is very likely if we are poorer and/or have any condition which may be expensive to treat) we won’t get free access at the point of need to medical care. It’s a nightmare!
GPs’ hands are tied. They have been told it’s an offence not to provide the data. But patients can choose not to do so. How? Read these articles. In paragraph 4 you can download an opt-out letter for you to complete and use (template opt out letters for patients to use).
We doubt that many people know what’s happening – especially older patients and/or those without Internet access – so please distribute this information widely to your contacts and urge them to take action NOW. It’s OUR NHS not the government’s to sell off to their friends in the City.