Feeds

Summary care records - you might die, but they never will

Once you can opt in, you can never opt out

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Patients can decide whether or not to have their Summary Care Records included on the NHS national database, but if they change their mind afterwards there is no way to delete the record.

This emerged after a concerned Hampshire doctor asked several Primary Care Trusts what their policy was using Freedom of Information requests.

Dr Neil Bhatia wrote to the Information Commissioner's Office last week to ask if they consider the policy adequately follows data protection principles.

Bhatia said: "The government can in an instant, effortlessly and for free lose 25 million child benefit records but appears to have neither the funds not the technological capability to delete an individual medical record uploaded to the Summary Care Record."

The policy of automatically assuming everyone in the country is happy to have such an entry on a government database is already controversial. Forcing people to opt out is already unpopular, so stopping people from deleting their records is likely to raise more concerns.

The Department of Health told Bhatia in response to a previous request: "Whilst Health Ministers have determined that patients need not have an SCR if they do not want one, this should not be understood to mean that once created an SCR can be completely removed. Records can be made inaccessible to staff in a number of ways, but the cost of completely removing them would be prohibitive.

"As with all digital records systems, complete removal would require the hardware holding records to be completely sanitised. This is a process that destroys all data held, for example on a server or hard drive, and not just a particular record."

The DoH also claims "the issue of audit and the medico-legal evidential significance of the SCR" means that complete removal would be inappropriate even if technically possible. Bhatia pointed out this would only be true if the record had been accessed and changed.

Earlier this month the National Programme for IT changed the rules to allow people to opt out of having an SCR without appearing in person at their doctor's surgery.

Bhatia's surgery and website has advice for patients wishing to opt out of the project. If you don't want your medical records included, you should get in touch with your doctor sharpish.

A spokesperson for the ICO told us: "The ICO has met, and continues to meet, with NHS Connecting for Health about data protection matters, including data retention. The Data Protection Act clearly states that all organisations must store personal information for only as long as necessary. Personal information that is no longer required must be deleted to ensure compliance with the Act."®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.