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Gov denies special celeb NHS record treatment

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The Department of Health has said that politicians and celebrities will not get an automatic exemption from inclusion on the NHS personal demographics service (PDS), despite reports suggesting this will be the case.

Exclusion from the PDS, which contains name, contact details, place and date of birth and NHS number, stops patients having a summary care record, which will otherwise be created automatically unless they choose to opt out. The coalition government has made opting out easier, but decided against asking all patients to opt in to the records.

The department said that the names and addresses of NHS patients will only be excluded from the PDS, and flagged as 'S' for 'sensitive', if having them on the system would put them at serious risk. "Being a celebrity or politician is not grounds on which an S flag would be issued. This is for people who are at risk of physical violence if their location is disclosed," said a spokeswoman.

She added that no "celebrities" have S flags and that all patients can opt out of having their details entered onto the summary care record at any time.

If patients believe their safety would be at risk if their location was to be revealed, they can arrange through their GP to have an S flag set on their demographic record on the PDS. The department said that care professionals or agencies can also arrange this.

"This will ensure that their address is not available to anyone with access to the NHS demographic service," said the spokeswoman. "As the summary care record also contains details of location, such as the patient's general practice, any patient with an S flag will not have an SCR created."

This article was originally published at Guardian Professional. Join the Guardian Healthcare Network to receive regular emails on NHS innovation.

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