Summary Care Records opt-out isn't "easy-peasy" says Janet Street Porter

               I can request Summary Care Records information in Farsi, Gujarati, Mandarin or Polish, but not say I don’t want an SCR…

              “Why should pensioners and the disabled have to spend time and effort making phone calls and logging on to protect their privacy?”

               “…We have not been consulted about SCRs, just inflicted with them. The money and effort being poured into this bonkers scheme would keep more wards open and pay for extra nurses at a time when the NHS has drawn up secret plans for £20bn worth of cuts.


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Daily Mail columnist Janet Street Porter, has picked up on Computer Weekly’s article about inaccuracies and omissions in the Summary Care Records database.

She cites the inaccuracies as part of her criticism of the Summary Care Record scheme. She points out that opting out of the SCR scheme is far from  “easy-peasy”.

In a columnin yesterday’s paper, she writes:

“According to Computer Weekly, theteam ofresearchers monitoringthe implementation of SCRs [summary care records] found the database wasregularly missing out patients’ allergies and their potentially adversereaction to certain drugs, as well as listing the wrong medication.

“Apart from privacy issues, accuracy is a realcause forconcern. But if you (like me) don’t want your medical nooks and cranniesfloating around in NHS cyberspace, easily accessible by anyone from acleanerto a receptionist with a pin number, then you had better tell someonepronto.

“But that’s not easy-peasy. Thefreepost envelopewith thebooklet [which is being sent by PCTs to millions of people in SCRinformationpacks) allows me to request all the same information in Farsi, Gujarati,Mandarin or Polish, but not to say I don’t want an SCR.

“Instead, I have to make my wishes known on the NHSwebsiteor phone an 0845 or 0800 number. And we know what that means – even theinstructions admit ‘lines may be busy at peak times’.

“The NHS could have sent out a form with a box totick – butthat’s too simple. And the truth is, they are uploading our recordswhether wewant them to or not.

“SCRs are supposed to beaccessed only by keystaff, but NHSTrusts are interpreting this directive very differently, with somegivingpeople like cleaners the right to see my personal details.

“So far, 1.3 million SCRs have been created andanother8.9million people have been sent a letter about the programme – but theGovernment is only allowing a 12-week window for us to prevent ourdetailsbeing uploaded.

“Why should pensioners and thedisabled have tospend timeand effort making phone calls and logging on to protect their privacy?

“We have not been consulted about SCRs, justinflicted withthem. The money and effort being poured into this bonkers scheme wouldkeepmore wards open and pay for extra nurses at a time when the NHS hasdrawn upsecret plans for £20billion worth of cuts.”

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Commenting on Street Porter’s column,Kathryn ofWakefield saysthat Janet hasn’t a clue what she is talking about – that cleaners don’thaveaccess to patient records and don’t have smartcards.

Says Kathryn:

“Before shooting down the SCR system,she [JanetStreetPorter] should try ringing a Practice Manager at a local GPs to find outjusthow careful we have to be to protect patient confidentiality. You willfindthat most GPs and staff do their utmost to maintain this anyway. Also,cleanersdon’t have access to patient records – they don’t have Smart Cards.”

Kathryn makes an important point: thatGPs tend to keepmedicalinformation safe. The breaches of privacy we know about happen when personalinformation has gone outside the GP practice.

We reported last week that cateringstaff hadaccess toiSoft patient record systems in Ireland.

Links:

A defence of Summary Care Records – and an SCR Q&A – letter by Dr Gillian Braunold, Clinical Director Summary Care Record & HealthSpace

Confidential report on Summary Care Records says database is inaccurate – IT Projects Blog

The NHS should use our cash for patient care not flash computers – Janet Street Porter, Daily Mail

Realigning NPfIT could save £1bn, claims 2020health – BJHC

Broken Records: 100,000 hospital administrators, porters and IT staff able to access confidential medical records – Big Brother Watch

Summary Care Records – Include me out

Call to strengthen confidentiality of NHS records – ThisisOxfordshire

Opting out – a response to the Department of Health – Big Brother Watch

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Interesting to note Ken Clarke's comments on R4's PM programme yesterday [March 29] about the Conservatives deciding to cut back on spend for the NPfIT. I've not looked into how far progressed that process is to-date but a piecemeal approach to cutting back on projects related to patient care, (where funds are suddenly withdrawn from ongoing commitments) needs to be handled carefully. It'll be interesting to note if any vulnerabilities appear within data management if brakes are suddenly applied after a potential shake-up in government.

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I contacted the helpline when the letter arrived last week, to ask why they had not included the form to opt out but given me a form to request details in other languages AND an envelope to post it in.

I was told by the operator, in a voice that may have been chiding a wayward child, that quote "we had a risk assessment done and it was decided that joe public will just fill in any official form that comes through the door, and post it back without reading it, so we deliberately left it out so that couldn't happen..."

So that's the regard we are held in..... and why we are observed, catalogued and databased - we are too stupid and Nanny State knows best...

George Orwell anyone?

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