The NHS wants to store and sell your health records
Some time this month, if you live in Britain, you will receive a leaflet from the NHS. Its purpose is to persuade you that a new central database of all your health information (more or less everything your doctor knows about you, has said to you, has prescribed for you, or advised you on) held and operated by the government, is a good thing. It is not a good thing, and the leaflet does not tell you all you need to know about the database.
It is not a good thing.
Ross Anderson has provided an alternative leaflet providing more of the information that we should all be told. His leaflet provides a cut-out form that we can use to instruct our GP not to give any of our health data to the central database. We can do this. That’s the law. It’s in the Data Protection Act. If we do not do so, our health records will be uploaded automatically and we will not be able to get them removed. I suggest every Brit should read Anderson’s leaflet as well as the NHS leaflet; and I urge everyone to instruct their GP to block the upload.
Why do we need to object?
The data held will not be anonymised. It cannot be, because they want to marry our GP records with any records from hospital visits. That data will then be sold to third parties. The biggest buyers will be the pharmaceutical companies, either directly or disguised as research establishments or subcontracted to universities. By default, that data will not be anonymised.
They say we can insist on our own records being anonymised before sale. That is meaningless, irrelevant and impossible.
Raw medical records will not help in the development of new treatments or drugs. But it will help in targeting existing drugs. It will show relationships both geographically and socially between treatments and success or failure rates. It will, in short, enable the drug companies to target specific groups of patients or geographical areas with their existing drugs.
That will be the primary use of this database by the pharmaceutical companies – to locate targets and develop marketing strategies for their existing products.
Do not believe anything said to the contrary: this is what will happen.