In a highly secretive plan, the government will implement a scheme where GPs will upload confidential medical records to a central government database and sell the information to private companies for £1 – and patients don’t have to be told about it.
Under the new General Practice Extraction Service, 100 GPs will be uploading complete medical records to the database held by the Health and Social Care Information Centre as a pilot.
Although names and addresses will be omitted, the records will contain information which can be used to easily identify an individual. The patient’s NHS number, date of birth, postcode, and gender will be included, which can easily be cross-referenced with other resources (such as electoral registers) to identify who the information belongs to.
Companies who wish to access the information will pay £1 per record.
According to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, sharing GP records will assist universities and private companies with valuable information for research.
So far there are 55 ‘accredited’ organisations who can apply for the data, including BUPA, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Phil Booth, of campaign group medConfidential, told the Daily Mail “They are presenting this as some anodyne thing that’s only going to be used for health research. But this is a massive re-engineering of how everybody’s medical records are going to be used. It is an unprecedented threat to our medical confidentiality.”
Mr Booth continued “This is a wholesale rewriting of the deal between patient and doctor. When people go to the GP, they go for medical treatment – they don’t expect commodification of their patient record.”
If medical records being on a Big Brother central government computer (which could link the medical information with other records and surveillance information) was not bad enough, the information could be in thousands of computer systems, each with their own variable level of data security.
An unscrupulous company or individual could access the information for purposes other than research without too much effort – which could then be used for marketing, employee screening, etc.
Sharing medical information between hospitals and medical professionals within the NHS is one thing, but allowing private companies to access the same data is dangerous and open to abuse.
Obviously the government doesn’t care too much for the privacy of British citizens when a profit can be made, or where it can contribute to financing the new NHS England quango.
This underhand and secret dealing in your confidential information is further proof that the government sees the citizens of the UK as a commodity to be used as economic slaves.
How long will it be before the government sell-off other confidential information in the name of profit?