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An email from OpenDemocracy

Health data is both hugely sensitive and immensely valuable.

The UK’s NHS data alone has been valued at £10bn. And our GP data is the most detailed, valuable and sensitive of all.

Now, British health secretary Matt Hancock has quietly announced a plan to take the GP records of everyone in England, and enter them all into one massive database.

He wants to make this data available to “third parties” – including private companies. This would mean incredibly sensitive data about all of us who use the NHS – including sexual health, mental health, criminal records – being pooled and shared.

Maybe this is a good idea and maybe it isn’t. Concentrate, here, just on that value argument.

OK, so it’s all worth £10 billion. Cool. How do we get the £10 billion our of it? By collating it and then charging people for access to it. For if we don;t do that then we don;t get the money and it’s not worth £10 billion, is it?

14 thoughts on “An email from OpenDemocracy”

  1. What is special about NHS data that makes it “the most detailed, valuable and sensitive of all”? However, I did not know that it included criminal records. I am not sure how NHS data stacks up against that of other countries but it would surprise me if it were not comparable, other than possibly in the area of criminal records. I cannot think of any real reason for not selling access to it. I know people who are incensed about it but then they voted Remain and are still chuntering – thus not sane, strictly speaking

  2. >I cannot think of any real reason for not selling access to it.
    It’s not yours?
    Banks can’t sell access to money in their safe deposit boxes, even though it’s their premises it’s stored on.

  3. This is being done by NHS Digital. You know, those guys who’ve made such a success of every other IT project.

    If you want your bunions discussed on facebook, or are happy to pay a hacker to re-anonymise your data, go ahead and let them (by default) centralise your data.

    If not you have a fortnight to object: first stop your opt-out at the GP level (type 1).
    Type 2 opt out is not actually handled by the GP practice but you can do this yourself online via this website here

    If we were still in the EU we probably wouldn’t even have been given the choice.

  4. For if we don;t do that then we don;t get the money . . .

    Who’s this “we”?

    We, the patients, aren’t getting shit for our medical records. It’d be less than £150 each if we did.

  5. A couple of points. When I looked at opting out, it turns out there are exceptions, so it doesn’t amount to an opt-out. I also noted the phrase ‘NHS Digital will never sell your data’. So why are we discussing this? Can’t I trust the NHS?????????????/

  6. It turned out, a couple of decades ago, out that our local World Famous Teaching Hospital had two different medical records for me (based, I imagine, on a misspelling of my name). Neither was complete. When this was admitted to me it was joined by the promise that the records would be consolidated.

    I don’t suppose that the result was accurate either. I base this guess on the surgeon coming to talk to me before a recent procedure I was to have. “You suffer from CVD.” “First I’ve heard of it.” “But you’ve had stents fitted.” “No I haven’t.” I wonder whose facts had been stuck on my consolidated record.

    Anyway, I was struck by the thought that this sort of blunder might be quite common, given that they had the handy verb “consolidated” in fluent use.

    I ask in all innocence: do I have a right to see my hospital records? I mean, I suppose, do I have a right to see them without any risk of being victimised for asking?

  7. @dearieme
    I once got sent my hospital records. All of them. Pages & p[ages of them. By ordinary post in a brown envelope. With my name on the outside.
    Now the why of why I was sent my hospital records is a mystery will forever remain unsolved. I did spend about half a day on the phone trying to find out which part of the NHS should have received them. So yes, dearieme, you may see your hospital records whether you want to or not. As may anyone else they care to send them to. But you probably can’t see them if you ask to.

  8. My medical records are already in the hands of a private company, TPP who provide the SystemOne clinical database system. 90% of UK patient records are held by either SystemOne or EMIS.

  9. Open Democracy are worried about their criminal records being shared: that is only plausible if they received NHS treatment while in prison.

  10. Dio–Plod has long wanted easy access to med records. Some woman says she was touched up–look in med base for anybody in the area who has talked with his doctor about his–and poss her–mental problems. Not nec’s sexual–but anything Plod can twist. Esp if the Person-of-Interest has no alibi for the time in question.

    Fuck that for a game of soldiers Wise to Opt out while we can.

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