Letter: Data sharing plan is a scandal in waiting

We are writing to draw the attention of readers to the possibility that personal medical records may be made available commercially unless we make it clear to our General Practitioners that we do not give consent for our records to be passed on to NHS Digital.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:00 am

There are good arguments for gathering health information for research and healthcare planning but this is something worryingly different.

The Government proposes to make this information available for sale to unknown commercial organisations.

The information to be uploaded is claimed to be made anonymous but, with modern computing power, we would be wise to question whether that can be maintained.

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"We are writing to draw the attention of readers to the possibility that personal medical records may be made available commercially," write two local doctors.

There has been very little publicity about this and we understand that GP surgeries have only recently become aware of it themselves.

As individuals, we are able to prevent our information being uploaded by getting a Type 1 Opt-out form, either from our GP surgeries or by downloading and returning it completed to our GP practices by June 23. It seems unlikely that many of us will have done that by that date so, unless the Government delays the upload or the GP surgeries take the radical step of refusing to allow the upload, most of us will have had our information uploaded without having had a say in that, which is a scandal.

Opting out may seem drastic, but once the data has been passed on by your practice or hospital, you lose all control over its subsequent use.

You can always agree later for your data to be shared, once the Government has given a better justification for doing so - with watertight data protection procedures in place.

Dr Susan Read and Dr Ian Bowns

Derbyshire

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