A central NHS database of the patient’s medical records will be available to police without a warrant in breach of the idea of doctor-patient confidentiality, according to the former shadow Home Secretary, David Davis MP.
Mr Davis claimed that the database, which will go live in May, had a series of “backdoors” that would enable police and government officials to look at medical information.
The records will include details about smoking and drinking habits, mental health issues and drugs that have been prescribed.
Supporters of the system say it [will] lead to improved care and help researchers make medical breakthroughs.
However Mr Davis told The Guardian: “The idea that police will be able to request information from a central database without a warrant totally undermines a long-held belief in the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship.”
He added that he had “no problems with the data being used for licensed medical research, but when we have police accessing from a database that people have opted out from, and companies being able to buy this data, I think we need to have a debate about whether my property, which are my patient records, can be sold and used.”
The information in the database will be stripped of some methods of identification, but Mr Davis said it was possible to work out who people were from their records.
“I have had my nose broken five times. Once you know that, I am probably in a group of 100 people in England. Then you figure out when I had my diphtheria jab, usually done at birth, and bang you got me. Let me be clear: people can be identified from this data,” he said.
The Health-Care Survivor’s Comment
In the UK today, perhaps this story is less shocking, or even surprising, than it should be. Nevertheless, I believe that it marks a destructive blow to patient’s confidence that the NHS will provide them with the care, advice, and information they need, without fear, favour or bias.
It is possible, and, I believe essential, to OPT-OUT of this dangerous infringement of your right to choose with whom you consult about your health.
However, there is NOT an official form, or central point, through which to opt-out. Instead, every individual patient will have to contact their GP/Family Doctor directly. Some patient’s groups have offered examples of what they think an opt-out instruction should say, and some doctors are providing their own forms upon request.
This Is An Opt-Out System: Please be aware that any patient who does not actively opt-out, is presumed to have given their consent to be included in the database.
Please let me know what you think. I look forward to welcoming you to the conversation.