Feeds

NHS patient privacy? What patient privacy!

Trust me, I'm a Doctor

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Up to 200,000 requests are made under by investigators under false pretences to obtain health information on British patients each year. And most attempts succeed, according to the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR).

This calculation is based upon an old pilot study in one health authority exposed 30 phone calls per week made under false pretences, with investigators pretending to be doctors or health administrators. The pilot was inspired by a BMA recommendation in 1996 that telephone requests to a health authority or provider for patient information should be logged, approved by a clinician and then authenticated by calling back to a telephone number in the NHS directory.

So did the NHS embrace and extend this scheme? Of course not, the whole idea was shelved.

The FIPR wants to see telephone request auditing reintroduced. The vast majority of bogus enquiries could be stopped with the basic telephone discipline tested in the pilot scheme, it says.

The willingness of UK health professionals to hand over confidential information to every Tom, Private Dick and Harry, should set alarm bells ringing, with the massive centralisation of NHS patient information in place.

According to the FIPR, NHS Systems fail to protect patient confidentiality. The influential think-tank is urging the Government to improve privacy protection of patients' medical information. The call to action comes in response to a National Health Service (NHS) consultation.

Current NHS strategy is focused on creating a central electronic patient record database. We already have a "clearing" database which records payments made for all hospital treatment, along with the names and addresses of patients.

And other medical databases available to ministers and civil servants contain enough information to identify the vast majority of the patients.

Making this information available to so many NHS administrators and civil servants is unethical and will lead to growing abuse, the FIPR argues.

Instead of creating a central patient records database, the NHS would do better concentrating on preventing existing abuse, the FIPR says.

It also recommends that patients must unambiguously consent before their medical records are shared with anyone but the clinical staff actually providing treatment. Breaches of confidentiality should automatically be notified to patients and invoices should not carry a patient's name, but simply an order number.

FIPR chairman Ross Anderson said: "Patients entrust some of their most sensitive personal information to their doctors. NHS managers should not be trying to undermine that trust by spreading identifiable patient data around the health service bureaucracy and the civil service."

He continued: "The NHS must modernise their systems to protect rather than undermine patients' privacy. Otherwise they risk the trust between patient and doctor that is vital for effective healthcare." ®

External Links

Details of the NHS consultation
... and FIPR's response

Related Stories

Key NHS project in sick bay
NHS PKI project in sick bay
Health industry warns of 'sinister' govt legislation

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.