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A secret plan to sell confidential medical records to private companies for as little as £1 has been drawn up by officials.

From next month, GPs will start sending detailed NHS patient records to a central database for the first time under the new General Practice Extraction Service (GPES), yet doctors do not have to tell patients about the project, described by campaigners as an ‘unprecedented threat’ to medical confidentiality. 

The records – held for every person registered with a GP – will contain details of medical conditions, as well as ‘identifiable’ information including a patient’s NHS number, postcode and date of birth. Private firms such as Bupa can then apply to the Health Service to buy and use data from the records.

The project is being driven by NHS England, the new super quango, after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made it clear he wanted a data revolution in the Health Service. Mr Hunt argues that sharing GP records with universities and private companies will provide a valuable tool for medical research, monitoring flu outbreaks and screening for common diseases, but privacy campaigners last night warned there were ‘huge risks’ with putting so much patient information into so many hands. Mr Hunt believes that allowing universities and private groups access health information easier will attract pharmaceutical companies and life sciences firms to the UK.

From next month, 100 GP  surgeries in England will upload details from patient records to a central database held by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

We would like to reassure all clients that Life Right will never sell, share or disclose your personal details to any 3rd party company.

Sensitive medical information will be included – for example whether a patient suffers from a condition such as cancer, heart disease or depression – as well as lifestyle information such as alcohol consumption. Names and addresses will not be uploaded, but ‘patient identifiable data’ including date of birth, postcode, gender and ethnicity will. Using publicly available records such as electoral rolls – which contain postcode and dates of birth information – malicious individuals could then identify who the patient records belong to.

There are 55 organisations  accredited to apply for identifiable or sensitive data. Most are NHS bodies but also on the list are Bupa, the hospital comparison firm Dr Foster and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

 

Excerpts and article taken from the Daily Mail 18/08/13

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