Feeds

'Maybe we haven't been clear enough about med records opt-out', admits NHS data boss

ICO says health service failed to be upfront about its plans

Top three mobile application threats

NHS data chief Tim Kelsey admitted today that the health service had failed to adequately inform patients about how they can opt out of having their GP medical records shared throughout England.

A leaflet carelessly posted out in among junk mail to 26.5 million households across the country was not "clear enough on the website or in the information that's been sent out [about] exactly what data is going to go and what is not going to go", the Information Commissioner Office's Dawn Monaghan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

Kelsey said in response: "I think that maybe we haven't been clear enough about the opt-out, I agree with that."

One of the problems with the mailshot was that it didn't come with a simple opt out form for patients to fill in and hand to their GP practices to allow them to easily object to their medical records being shared within the NHS.

The "Better information means better care" leaflet only mentioned the opt-out process on the back of the flyer. Before that, it simply spoke about the benefits of GP data being mixed in with other NHS information already held by the government.

Kelsey said today that the NHS was "trying to ask patients to give us their permission to use their data in order to analyse which treatments and services deliver the best outcomes for them".

But - as privacy critics have argued - by failing to be clear about the opt-out process, many patients will be unaware of what will happen with their medical records once shared beyond the walls of their GP surgeries.

"Finally there is a mechanism where people can actually object to the use of their data in this way, but the problem is they have to take it on trust because patients still aren't being told when their data's being used," campaigner Phil Booth of medConfidential told the BBC.

Kelsey said that the so-called care.data plan would make the NHS "more accountable for the service it provides." He also claimed that, in 25 years of processing information on admissions, outpatient appointments and A&E attendances at NHS hospitals in England, there had never been a "single example of that data being compromised".

The new scheme will be managed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which will soon begin collecting patient info from GP practices - it will then be linked with hospital data it already stores.

Booth argued that some of the patient data - which will be replaced by the HSCIC with a pseudonym to supposedly scrub an individual's identity from that record - "can be re-identified".

Kelsey insisted this morning that that argument was flawed. "I'm really pleased we're having the debate, but it's not identifiable," the NHS data chief said.

"We have helped demonstrate huge variation in quality of care provided in the NHS and it's had a very galvanising effect on improvement using exactly this kind of data, very securely controlled," Kelsey said in reference to use of hospital records.

Privacy campaigners refuse to be silenced, however, with some arguing that such a database could end up being used, for example, by insurance companies. A claim that the NHS continues to deny. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.