NHS England – the body now in charge of commissioning primary care services across England – wants to use your patient records and you have to opt out if you don’t want that to happen.
In January 2014, NHS England sent out a leaflet entitled Better information means better care and suggested you “speak to your GP practice” if you want to opt out, but medConfidential an independent, non-partisan public campaign fighting for confidentiality and consent in health and social care, say this is misleading and time wasting.
The NHS has now delayed for at least six months their plan to share data from people’s medical records following concerns from doctors and patients’ groups, acknowledging there was insufficient public confidence in the scheme.
Guardian journalist Ben Goldacre is largely in favour of the use of medical data and in a story on 22 February he urges the NHS to do three things: 1) Make a proper announcement about what they will do during the six month delay, 2) Show the public how lives are saved by medical research, and 3) Promise stiff penalties for infringing medical privacy. “Fines are useless” he says, “anyone leaking or misusing personal medical data, needs a prison sentence as does their CEO.”