Ben Laurie blathering

Big Brother Knows Best

The Guardian printed a coupon last week that you could fill in and mail to the NHS asking to not have your medical records included on the NHS’ Spine.

In keeping with their policy of establishing consensus through advertising, the Department of Health have apparently responded that

nobody could have genuine grounds for claiming “substantial and unwarranted distress” as a result of having their intimate medical details included on a national computer system

Since, it seems, the criterion for being allowed to opt out is that you must demonstrate “substantial and unwarranted distress”, this means that no-one can opt out!

No doubt in a few months the fact that no-one has opted out will be quoted as evidence that there is widespread public support for the Spine.

Update: According to The Register, Lord Warner, health minister said:

“Patients will be informed in advance about new ways in which their information will be held and shared and they will be told they have the right to dissent – or ‘opt out’ – of having information shared.”

which doesn’t really tally with a statement by another minister, John Hutton:

“The Data Protection Act also provides patients with a right, where they are suffering substantial damage or distress, to object to processing of their data, including to prevent their data being held at all in an identifiable form, though this is expected to be a very rare event. We are currently considering how this right should apply to implementation of the NHS care record.”

If you care about this stuff, you might want to take a look at The Big Opt Out.


  1. Catch 22: Not just a requirements manual!

    Comment by Adam — 5 Dec 2006 @ 6:24

  2. […] Laurie has a good post on the privacy issues with the "new" NHS Spine system, and picks out the flaws with the advice and […]

    Pingback by My Habari :: NHS Spine — 27 Jan 2010 @ 21:22

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