Ben Laurie blathering

Soley on Data Spine Opt-out

My ex-MP, Clive Soley, has a blog. In it, he displays his usual grasp of the important issues

Fine Dan. You opt out of the NHS system as is your proper right but don’t blame me if in an emergency you don’t get the right treatment quickly enough because they have to ask permission to get your record when your unconscious!

Anyone who has looked into this even a little bit knows perfectly well that A&E aren’t interested in your medical history, apart from any that’s drastic enough to make you carry a warning about your person. For which, of course, a central database is totally not required. Incidentally, I wrote to my GP asking her to opt me and my immediate family, which she did without any fuss (see “Big Brother Knows Best“).
In the same post, amazingly

DNA. Any state system of collecting information is always a balance between the usefulness of the information to the individual (see above) and to society and those aspects have to be set against any dangers to overall freedom. As I have already said collection of DNA seems to me to be fairly easily justified.

The advantages are :

1. A very useful way of avoiding some of the wrongful convictions we have seen in the past:

2. A strong deterrent for crimes of extreme violence especially rape and murder:

3. A way of increasing the speed at which an offender can be caught – think how many murders and rape cases in the past could have been cleared up quickly before further offences could be committed.

Funnily enough, there’s no corresponding list of disadvantages.

It reminds me of the one time I interacted with him as my MP. I wrote to him about trespass, which was, at the time, to be criminalised. His response? “Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear”. Apart, that is, from the ones that were law-abiding yesterday and are criminals today. He also went on to respond to a number of points I had not raised, presumably because I was being fobbed off with a form letter for a campaign that was running at the time.


  1. Ha. I came over here to post a comment to see if you had lost your mind or what. However, I find that when reading this through the RSS feed, the quotes are show properly.

    When reading it without the quoting, you list 3 advantages to DNA databases, and you see no disadvantages. 😉

    Comment by Ryan Russell — 2 Jan 2007 @ 20:41

  2. That these fools who support DNA databasing of all not-us groups don’t realize is that not-us and us, are, due to the nature of human evolution, closely related. Those people happy volunteer themselves for direct idiocy, should be strangled by their blood relatives before it’s too late.

    Comment by Julian Assange — 5 Jan 2007 @ 12:56

  3. The comment that electronic health records are of no value in A&E is absolute male genitalia. I speak as a medic with experience of the matter.

    It is true that past medical history is not hugely relevant for a young rugby player who presents to A&E with a dislocated shoulder. However, knowing the past medical history, current medications and allergies is **crucial** to the vast majority of patients who present to hospitals. Think of old people who present to hospital confused and drowsy: is this a drug reaction? do they suffer dementia or are they usually lucid? have they been in atrial fibrillation for some time? has it been medically controlled? Think of the average 50 year old male presenting with chest pain: trust me, 90% don’t remember what drugs they are on and can’t remember half of their medical history, claiming e.g. that they’ve never had heart problems but then being on a b-blocker and digoxin! Think of the increasing amount of foreign citizens who present with only basic English: they can tell me their tummy hurts, but not that they have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease and haven’t had a period for 6 weeks.

    Electronic records will help healthcare enormously. Can we survive without them? Yes, of course. We could also survive without CT scanners (which deliver massive radiation) or D-dimer tests (expensive) but now that we’ve learnt how valuable they are….would we want to?

    I think not.

    Comment by Edward — 19 Mar 2007 @ 18:00

  4. I do not want my private medical details available to 1.3 million people, plus temporary and contract staff. Sorry, but that is not confidentiality, you might as well post the medical record on the nearest shop window if 1 in 50 of the population has access to them. If these medical histories are so valuable, then maybe the special cases should be given a card to carry on their person. Be a hell of a lot cheaper, and think what you could do with the billions of pounds left over.

    This system is a solution trying to find a problem. No other industry would devote that much money for such a low individual risk. Not even 1% of us per year are likely to find ourselves in A&E in that situation, it is probably more like 1 in a lifetime, or less, except for the special cases who can be individually addressed.

    Comment by optingout — 26 Apr 2007 @ 16:28

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