Want your NHS records to stay private? Good luck

If you don’t want your health records stored online, you may have some trouble finding the ‘opt out’ option.

If you are registered with a GP in any of six primary care trusts — Bolton, Bradford and Airedale, Bury, Dorset, South Birmingham and South West Essex — you will last week, have received a leaflet about new “summary care records”. 
It comes with a letter explaining what’s in the leaflet, and a form to order another leaflet in one of 12 formats, from the sensible (Braille) via the surprising (Farsi) to the faintly depressing nanny state (easy-read picture version).

If, like most people, you develop an eye spasm when privacy issues arise, you might want to opt out of having your health records stored online.

If you have no continuing medical conditions (besides the eye tic) and are capable of speaking and listening to doctors, you might think you don’t need your records to be computerised. And opting out means that when the laptop of private information is inevitably left in a pub somewhere in Berkshire, you won’t have to grind your teeth in impotent rage.

The leaflet explains that if you want to opt out, you can do so at www.nhscarerecords.nhs.uk — but go to that site, and you will search in vain for any mention of opting out. And when I say search in vain, I mean by clicking on each available link, not using a search box.

There is no search box. Once you’ve clicked on all the links, you will be no wiser. Many of the links have sub-links, which you are welcome to try. They also yield nothing, other than the occasional derisive hoot when they are called “HealthSpace Troubleshooting”.

You will have need to refer to your glossy leaflet, ignore it and try the covering letter again. Eventually you will discover that you must type www.nhscarerecords.nhs.uk/patients/info to gain access to the list of “early adopter PCTs”. 

Click on your area. Only then can you download the opt-out form. There is no link to a “patients” or “info” page on the site you first went to. The patient page is the internet equivalent of being behind the fake door covered in books that leads to the secret room.

This, you will recall, is exactly why you are incensed about privacy. Because when they tell you that they value your privacy, what they are actually telling you is that they will take advantage of people being too busy to track things down or too polite to bother their GP’s practice manager during a pandemic.

Douglas Adams’s Arthur Dent once sighed that plans to demolish his home were “on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’”. 

Do not fear the leopard. The form can be accessed from here: https://www.sbpct.nhs.uk/yourservices/technologyandyourcare/nhscarerecords.aspx with the actual pdf form which you will have to print off at:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6802497.ece with additional research by Health Direct

One Comment so far:

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you.The leaelft is patronising and disingenuous. Where is the evidence that the NHS is not world class. If it is so bad then why did Barack Obama spend his first term in office trying to push through health reforms nearer the UK model?Yes, drug treatments are costly. Do something about the pharmaceutical companies then instead of targeting the institution.Amazing that they are prepared to bail out failing banks but not hospitals. This demonstrates exactly the Government’s priorities. The leaelft is embarrassing.

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