Thursday, December 21, 2006

ARCH have moved

The good folks at Action on Rights for Children have moved their blog to and draw our attention to a great piece by Ross Anderson in the Guardian today about the government's apparent U-turn to allow opting out of having your medical records put on the national spine database.

"The NHS's ill-starred computer project is in the news again. After polls showed that most doctors and patients oppose a compulsory national database of medical records, health minister Lord Warner produced a report on Monday and promised an opt-out. But don't break out the champagne yet. The report was cleverly spun; hidden in an appendix is confirmation that you can opt out of the Summary Care Record, but not the Detailed Care Record.

The first is merely a synopsis for emergency care. It will have your current prescriptions, and will say, for example, whether you are diabetic. But ministers are not offering an easy opt-out from the second - the database replacing your current GP and hospital records. They plan to "upload" your GP data over the next year or two to a regional hosting centre run by a government contractor. The data will initially remain under your GP's nominal control but, after hospital records have been uploaded too, the chief medical officer will be the custodian of the whole lot.

Your "electronic health record" will be used for many purposes, from cost control through audit to research. So the Home Office plans to use health data to help predict which children are likely to offend (despite a recent report to the information commissioner that collecting large amounts of data on children without their parents' consent will probably break human rights law)."

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