Another step towards big brother society

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Medical records should be confidential. Personal details should be known only by the individual and their doctor.

The exception should be if a patient gives their express consent for their details to be shared within the NHS to support their treatment. This was once the case but the government has made legal changes which mean that, after the end of this month, the confidentiality of medical records can no longer be guaranteed.

Your doctor will shortly be legally required to send computerised medical details, no matter how intimate or personal, to a central database run by the NHS information service. This might be acceptable if NHS control were a reality. However, the government has allowed the sale of personal information to “approved researchers and organisations outside the NHS.”

Do you want researchers working for insurance, pharmaceutical and other private companies to be able to mine your personal medical records for their own ends? So many people will have access to the data that its security cannot be guaranteed. Any data that is sold is supposed to have the means of identifying individuals removed but any such removal will be insufficient to ensure the information is absolutely anonymous.

There is until the end of February to stop private companies grabbing personal information for their own use. All you have to do is write to your doctor to tell them you dissent from (i.e. do not agree to) your personal information being shared. Anyone who has children should write separately to refuse permission for their information to be shared.

This is the wrong way round. Citizens should be asked to give their agreement to data sharing but this will not happen. Instead, your consent will be assumed if you do not object. The only way to prevent your privacy and that of your children being compromised, is to write to your doctor before March 2014.

After that it will be too late and another step will have been taken towards a big brother society in which commercial interests can ride rough-shod over the rights of individual citizens.

Michael Hutchinson

Gregory Springs Lane

Mirfield