Why the fuss over sharing patient data with police and other authorities?

In response to the blog entry about police being allowed to request searches of a national database which supports the Secondary Uses Service an anonymous reader makes points many will agree with. The reader writes:


“Why is there such an upcry about sharing of information. In Scotland we have been sharing information between NHS, Social Work, Schools, Police, Childrens Reporter and numerous other organisations electronically for a number of years.

“England seems to be be so backwards in their thinking. In Scotland the Scottish Government have pushed and continue to push for the sharing of information, based around an eCare framework that has been implemented by many of these groups.

“If the sharing of information like this prevents one child from being harmed, I can see no reason why these trumped up publicity seekers should be told to sit down and be quiet.

“I am sure that those reading this are net savvy enough to find the Scottish Executive website and have a search there for eCare and eSSA (electronic Single Shared Assessment).

**

However “Alan” writes:

“Our anonymous friend forgets to ask how many children will be harmed by the database state.

“What effect does he/she think the ability of the police to trawl medical records for “offences” (like teenagers asking for the pill) on teen pregnancy. How many additional children will be harmed by undesirables getting access to the database, or parents tracking down children removed from them, or with partners now elsewhere via leaks from it (and we know all to well that staff can be tricked, and bribed)

If you save one child by harming another two you’ve made it worse. Social policy isn’t black and white.

Another reader writes:

“Alan is right and your anonymous reader is wrong. Like the argument “if you have nothing to hide…”, the argument that “if it saves just one child it will be worth it” implicitly assumes there will be no mistakes or abuses or other consequences – in short, that there are no risks associated with the deployment of the system in question.

“Any new system will impose such risks and therefore it is vital to consider them before and after deployment.”

Links:

Police to be allowed searches of national database of NHS patient records

Police won’t use national e-health records for fishing – government pledge

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Alan is right and your anonymous reader is wrong. Like the argument "if you have nothing to hide...", the argument that "if it saves just one child it will be worth it" implicitly assumes there will be no mistakes or abuses or other consequences - in short, that there are no risks associated with the deployment of the system in question.

Any new system will impose such risks and therefore it is vital to consider them before and after deployment.

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