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Your medical data may be soon be available for sale
January 24, 2014


by Beth King, our head of personal injury

You may shortly receive a leaflet from NHS England called "Better information means better care" – you may not notice it because it's being sent out as junk mail which you might well simply throw in the bin.  If they wanted you to read it, I think they would send a letter addressed to you.

The leaflet explains how your GP will be required to upload personal information about you and your medical history to a server at the Health and Social Care Information Centre. When that happens, you and your doctor will no longer have any control over what happens to your information. Although the information won't bear your name, you could easily be identified as it will contain your NHS number, date of birth, post code, gender and ethnic origin.

None of this information will available to doctors and hospitals providing you with medical treatment.  Instead, it will be available for "secondary uses" such as tracking likely levels of patients, business planning and contract management.  The bodies to which the information may be made available (and perhaps sold) includes research bodies, "information intermediaries" (whoever they might be) and even private companies such as insurance companies.

Don't take my word for it – here's a link to a recent article in the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/19/nhs-patient-data-available-companies-buy

If you've ever made a claim for damages for personal injury, it's quite likely the relevant insurers still have details of your date of birth, post code, gender, etc… Indeed, in some cases, they may have had access to your medical records so will probably also know your NHS number.  Then, if you want to make another claim, or take out life or critical illness insurance, they'll already know pretty much all they want to know about you.  This may sound a bit far-fetched and I hope that it never happens – but the point is that it might. I, for one, don't want anyone using my information without my knowledge and I certainly don't want anyone using it for profit.

But, the thing is, that the leaflet – if you receive it and study it – won't actually tell you how to opt out. It just says you should "speak to your GP" – but that won't be enough.  You have to tell the GP in writing that you don't want your information released.

If you want to opt out, and I advise that you do, Medconfidential have prepared a form you can fill in and send to your GP.   You can find the form in various formats at:

http://medconfidential.org/how-to-opt-out/

Please tell your family and friends so that they know what's about to happen.

Don't leave it for another day – the requirement to upload will start on 1st April this year.

The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.