NHS London chairman quits over government policy change

The chairman of NHS London has resigned after stating his vision of healthcare delivery had “little in common” with that of the new government.NHS London chairman quits over government policy changeIn a letter to the health secretary Andrew Lansley, Sir Richard Sykes said he thought his work had made real improvements for Londoners.

Other NHS London board members may also leave, Sir Richard also claimed.

Mr Lansley said he was sorry that Sir Richard did not wish to lead NHS London in developing improvements.

The news follows the government’s announcement last week that it was ordering NHS London to scrap its plans for changing the way hospitals and GPs worked in the future.

However, the new government says it wants the plans re-drawn – with more input from patients and doctors.

In his letter, Sir Richard said: “I have reflected on what you said and concluded that our visions of healthcare delivery bear so little in common that it would make no sense for me to continue in this role.

“I am, therefore, writing to give notice of my resignation from this office, with effect from 7 July.”

Sir Richard, who was appointed to the role in 2008, also said that he had “relished” the task of delivering change as outlined by the Healthcare for London report.

Responding, Mr Lansley said that the Healthcare for London approach should be to set out a range of innovative and challenging solutions for how to improve quality of care.

He said: “Neither the government nor NHS London should dictate decisions made. The decisions that patients make through choice, and which GPs make through commissioning, should not be pre-empted from on high.”

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/10165196.stm

Heart attack risk at football stadiums neglected

Too many football grounds do not have the right equipment and plans to save the lives of fans who have heart attacks, a study has found.

The poll of 187 stadiums found over a quarter did not have defibrillators and many did not have emergency plans.Heart attack risk at football stadiums neglectedThe Sweden led study, carried out by a group of club doctors, stressed more had to be done as it was not always easy to get ill fans to hospital.

Researchers said there should be mandatory rules covering the issue.

At the moment, it is simply considered good practice to have defibrillators at sports grounds.

But in recent years many governments – including the authorities in the UK – have been doing more to increase the availability of the life-saving equipment in public spaces.

Defibrillators work by delivering a controlled electric shock through the chest wall to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat.

Professor Mats Borjesson, the official medic for Swedish club GAIS and a member of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, said every ground should have access to a supply of the machines.

“It is known that viewing and being emotionally engaged in a soccer game increases the likelihood of people suffering a heart attack so we think this should be a formal requirement.”

He also warned facilities at sporting arenas elsewhere in the world may be even worse.

“As football is the biggest and best resourced sport in Europe, the situation may be even worse elsewhere.”

And he said it was important to have the proper procedures and planning in place too.

But only 64% had a written medical action plan, covering issues such as medical staffing and communications with hospital.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, gathered data from 10 countries, including England, France and Spain.

It did not name the grounds that took part, although the researchers said most of them were from the top divisions, and over the previous season there had been 77 heart attacks – one for every 589,000 spectators at these stadiums.

The 37 English grounds that were included were among the better performers, the study showed.

Ellen Mason, of the British Heart Foundation, said it was important the issue was being highlighted.

“Early access to a defibrillator increases the chance of survival so it’s reassuring to know that so many stadiums in England had one.”

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8546070.stm

NHS uses babies’ blood DNA for secret database

NHS hospitals have quietly created banks of DNA from blood taken from millions of newborn babies without the proper consent of their parents.NHS uses babies’ blood DNA for secret databaseFreedom of information (FOI) requests to hospitals around Britain have established that the blood samples, taken in heel-prick tests to screen for serious conditions, have been privately stored by parts of the NHS since 1984.

According to guidance obtained by The Sunday Times, the DNA can be looked at by police, coroners and some medical researchers. They are able to identify named individuals.

This weekend Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, was under pressure to order an inquiry into why the NHS appeared to have acted without securing proper consent from parents.

Mothers of newborns are given a leaflet that academic experts say fails to make clear the distinction between consent for vital clinical tests to safeguard a baby’s health and for the use of the baby’s DNA in medical research and police inquiries.

Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch, a pressure group, said: “Giving mothers a leaflet does not amount to informed consent. No one who has just given birth is in a state to understand the full implications of how their baby’s genome might be used in future.”

The standard leaflet simply explains that the stored blood samples can be used “for research to help improve the health of babies and their families in the UK”.

Up to 4m samples are being held at four of the 16 centres licensed to hold newborns’ bloodspots in the UK, according to the FOI responses. More than 700,000 babies are screened each year.

The police and coroners can apply for access to the infant blood samples, which contain individual DNA, to identify people involved in crimes.

Private medical companies and researchers working for the NHS are also able to access the samples, although most of the research is anonymous and done by the NHS after approval by an ethics committee. The bloodspots have been used for genetic research and mass screening for diseases such as HIV in babies’ mothers.

The UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre, which oversees the use of samples, says that some of the bloodspots can be linked to other information, such as hospital admission records, which identifies the individual.

Government guidance says the bloodspots should be kept for at least five years, but hospitals vary widely in their practices.

Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust has 1m samples in storage dating from 1984. About 250,000 further samples are stored in the hospital’s laboratory. It plans to store them indefinitely.

Cambridge University Hospitals Trust retains samples for 18 years. It stores 400,000 samples at Endex archives in Ipswich, with a further 62,800 samples kept in hospital labs.

Great Ormond Street hospital in London began storing samples in 1990 and preserves them for at least 20 years. It screens and stores the samples of about 120,000 babies a year.

It confirmed that it had occasionally handed samples to coroners but not to the police.

Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool, which was at the centre of a scandal over the retention of children’s organs, has 145,000 samples in storage. It receives about 29,000 samples per year. It destroys all samples after five years.

Dr Jane Kaye, director of the centre for health, law and emerging technologies at Oxford University, said: “It is very difficult to get samples like this to do public health screening. It is an enormous resource. But the problem is that this needs to be done properly and with proper consent. At the moment people are not being asked to sign a consent form or make a distinction between what is for their own child’s health and the fact that this may be used for other purposes.”

The samples are taken from babies, aged 5-8 days, to test for conditions such as sickle cell disorders, cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the pressure group, said that hospitals might face legal claims.

“As someone who gave consent for my own baby to be tested, I’m horrified that anyone would breach my trust, keep my child’s sample for years on end and use it for all sorts of extraneous purposes.

“If they think that thrusting a leaflet in an exhausted new mother’s hand creates informed consent, they can look forward to a flurry of claims under article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

“Liberty is writing to the new health secretary to ask for an urgent investigation.”

From: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article7134061.ece

MMR vaccine row Dr Andrew Wakefield defends investigation

The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism will appeal being struck off the medical register.

The General Medical Council found Dr Andrew Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over the way he carried out his controversial research.MMR vaccine row Dr Andrew Wakefield defends investigationIt follows a GMC ruling earlier this year that he had acted unethically.

Dr Wakefield, who is now based in the US, has consistently claimed the allegations are unfair. He now says he will appeal against the verdict.

His 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles – but the findings were later discredited.

The GMC ruled in January Dr Wakefield had acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research, but under its procedures the sanctions are made at a later date.

The case did not investigate whether Dr Wakefield’s findings were right or wrong, instead it focused on the methods of research.

During the two-and-a-half-year case, the longest in GMC history, he was accused of carrying out invasive tests on vulnerable children which were against their best interests.

The GMC also said Dr Wakefield, who was working at London’s Royal Free Hospital as a gastroenterologist at the time, did not have the ethical approval or relevant qualifications for such tests.

And the panel hearing the case took exception with the way he gathered blood samples. Dr Wakefield paid children £5 for the samples at his son’s birthday party.

It also said Dr Wakefield should have disclosed the fact that he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR.

In making the verdict on the sanctions, Dr Surendra Kumar, the panel’s chairman, said Dr Wakefield had “brought the medical profession into disrepute” and his behaviour constituted “multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct”.

In total, he was found guilty of more than 30 charges.

Dr Kumar also explained the reasoning for striking Dr Wakefield off.

“The panel concluded that it is the only sanction that is appropriate to protect patients and is in the wider public interest, including the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the profession, and is proportionate to the serious and wide-ranging findings made against him.”

Dr Wakefield has consistently claimed the allegations against him were “unfounded and unjust”.

As the GMC announced its sanctions, Dr Wakefield said: “Efforts to discredit and silence me through the GMC process have provided a screen to shield the government from exposure on the MMR vaccine scandal.”

Two of his former colleagues at the Royal Free were also ruled to have broken guidelines.

Professor John Walker-Smith and Professor Simon Murch both helped Dr Wakefield carry out the research.

Professor Walker-Smith, who is 73 and has been retired for the past 10 years, was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off the register. Professor Murch was found not guilty of serious professional misconduct despite there not being ethical approval for the research.

In explaining this decision, Dr Kumar said he took into account the fact that Professor Murch stopped carrying out tests on children for the study because he did not think they were necessary.

Top GPs earning over £300,000 a year

Britain’s highest paid GPs have broken through the £300,000-a-year barrier working for the National Health Service.

One of them, Suppiah Ratneswaren, 61, who is linked to four separate NHS practices in the south London borough of Greenwich, has admitted he is earning between £300,000 and £400,000 a year, 90% of it from the health service.

The respected GP spoke out after The Sunday Times obtained figures which revealed that one GP operating in the Greenwich area had earned £378,000 in a year solely by working for the NHS. Another earned £270,000 and six others have pocketed more than £190,000 in annual earnings.

The figures, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, relate to 2007 and 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

Ratneswaren insisted that he was not the highest-paid doctor in Greenwich: “I don’t want to be seen as a money-hungry doctor because I am driven by the quality of work and I work very hard. I have got nothing to hide.”

Pressed about his yearly earnings, Ratneswaren said: “It’s closer to £300,000 than £400,000.” He said 90% of his earnings were from the NHS, while the rest was generated through private services such as treating the relatives of patients who might be in Britain on holiday.

He said his practices received about £90 per year for each patient signed to it and insisted that doctors should not feel guilty about their earnings.

He also earns performance-related pay that rewards him for meeting a series of administrative and clinical targets such as measuring cholesterol levels among patients at risk. He said the country was benefiting from performance-related pay, “because I will argue that we have improved the quality of services to the patients”.

He defended doctors’ right to high earnings: “Medical professionals always put themselves in a different context to lawyers and other professionals such as City boys, and that’s why I suppose there’s a difference in the pay and the way they are perceived in the community.”

A second GP in the trust area, Hany Wahba, 56, has also been named by colleagues as one of the country’s highest-paid doctors. Wahba, who heads a practice in Plumstead, one of London’s poorest areas, and sits on the local committee of the British Medical Association (BMA), said: “I am not in a position to discuss anything. I don’t want to be dragged into something I don’t want to say.”

The disclosure that GPs in one trust are earning so much will raise concerns about NHS contracts introduced in 2004. These allowed GPs to opt out of night and weekend work while fuelling a surge in their earnings.

About half of a practice’s current income is now a flat rate based on the number and needs of their patients, calculated on factors such as age, gender, levels of morbidity and mortality rates.

The average GP’s salary has risen from £70,000 to £104,000 in six years and 300 senior GPs in England and Wales now earn more than £250,000 a year.

Critics say the contracts work to the advantage of practices with large populations in urban areas such as south London. Ratneswaren has 13,000 patients across his four practices with 9,000 at one in Greenwich — almost 50% higher than the average for England.

At the same time the change has left many areas short of night-time cover. A report by the Patients Association, published yesterday, found that one in six patients in some trusts regarded out-of-hours provision in their area as poor or very poor.

Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GP committee, has defended the payments system: “This was a deliberate attempt by the government to ensure GPs’ pay was increased because it had lagged behind other professionals.”

NHS Greenwich said practices were private contractors that could pay their staff as they chose, adding that the highest-earning GP undertook a variety of work for the NHS.

From: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7060978.ece

NHS continues Connecting for Health medical database- despite promises

The NHS’s Connecting for Health CfH, NPfIT continues to push forward its plan to nationalise and centralise all medical records in England.

NHS continues Connecting for Health medical database CfH- despite contrary promisesThis despite a misleading announcement from the Department of Health that uploads to the Summary Care Record (SCR) aka Snoopers Charter are ‘on hold’.

In just the last few days, the medical press has reported that:

  • NHS East Riding of Yorkshire began sending out notification letters to patients the day before election day;
  • GP practices in Hastings, East Sussex have uploaded records over the past 2-3 weeks, despite patients complaining they hadn’t received a notification letter;
  • At least 9 other Primary Care Trusts are working towards upload, and practice managers – not GPs – may already have given the go-ahead for upload at some practices in South West Essex.

Clearly, whatever deal was agreed between the British Medical Association and the NHS, there is no effective barrier to upload. And CfH is desperate to create a ‘critical mass’ of records, which it thinks will make the system impossible to scrap.

Health Direct warns that you need to act quickly.

30 million ‘Patient Information Packs’ were sent out in the run-up to the general election. No-one knows how many failed to reach their intended target. Both parties that now form the new government pledged to scrap the Care Records system but, every day that uploads continue, people’s medical confidentiality is being put at risk.

Please take a few minutes now or today to write to your new MP, urging him or her to call for an immediate halt to Summary Care Record uploads. POWER2010 has very kindly built an online letter-writing tool to help
you do this: http://www.power2010.org.uk/Halt

On the subject of the Nanny State’s Snoopers Charters- Home Information Packs (HIPs) were announced in the Queen’s Speech in November 2003, so were plans for a national ID scheme. The introduction of HIPs was subject to delays and plans were scaled back – just like the ID scheme.

In 2009 HIPS were finally issued and so were ID cards. The scrapping of HIPs was a manifesto pledge by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, so was scrapping ID cards.

Yesterday Eric Pickles MP, the new Communities Secretary announced that “HIPs are history” and “laid an Order suspending HIPs with immediate effect” (pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition).

Meanwhile ID cards are still being issued and the UK Identity and Passport website states: “Until Parliament agrees otherwise, identity cards remain valid and as such can still be used as an identity document and for travel within Europe.” Alas we still await a Pickles style announcement from the Home Office.  See http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1591777

Hospitals face staff shortages as junior doctors become pregnant

NHS Hospitals risk staff shortages because of the numbers of junior doctors becoming pregnant after getting their first secure job, medics have warned.
Hospitals face staff shortages as junior doctors become pregnantThey have urged the Government to make better long term plans so that departments were not left struggling when several doctors go on maternity leave at once.

The British Medical Association’s annual junior doctors conference called on the Department of Health (DoH) to draw up long-term estimates which take account of the fact that the majority of medical graduates are now female, and likely to take maternity leave, while many would go part-time.

They said the DoH needed to draw up better plans, which might mean taking on more trainees, and pool jobs, so that departments were not left struggling when several women went on maternity leave.

Such plans should take account of the fact that women were more likely to consider pregnancy once they had the job security of a four-year specialist training post, at least seven years after starting medical school, she said.

The specialist registrar in genitourinary medicine said it was “incredible” that the health service did not make plans which took account of the growing numbers of women in its workforce.

Latest figures show 56 per cent of successful applicants to medical school were female, and the majority of doctors will be female by 2017, according to a report by the Royal College of Physicians.

Dr Draeger, who has a son Henry, aged 2 and a half, and baby Catherine, of six months, said: “When I was pregnant the first time, out of the 11 trainees on my rotation, four were pregnant at the same time. My consultant was surprised and I said ‘how can you be? You have appointed seven women in their early 30s to a four-year guaranteed job with maternity benefits. Of course some are likely to think it is a good time to get pregnant’.”

Under the current system, a junior doctor entering specialist training, after five years of medical school, and two years of general training, would be aged at least 25. Many are older, with some having taken gap years before or after university, or taken longer to find a training place in the specialist profession.

Dr Draeger said she did not want to see women being turned down for a job because they were of child-bearing age, but that national plans should be drawn up, with pooling of jobs regionally to ensure there were sufficient numbers of medics to avoid shortages in particular departments.

Dr Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee agreed with the calls for better planning, describing pregnancy as “entirely predictable at a population level”.

The conference in London last weekend heard that some medical specialities were hit particularly hard by sudden shortages of women, with 9 out of 10 women working on one paediatric specialist training rota becoming pregnant within a short period, and all planning to return to work on a part-time basis.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Hospitals-face-staff-shortages-as-junior-doctors-become-pregnant

New mother’s death costs NHS Hospital £100,000

A NHS hospital trust was ordered to pay £100,000 after a mother who had just given birth died due to a mix-up between “identical-looking” drugs.

Mayra Cabrera, 30, died hours after giving birth to son Zac, who survived, at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wiltshire, on May 11 2004.

A nurse wrongly attached the epidural anaesthetic Bupivacaine to an intravenous drip attached to her arm instead of saline solution which she needed to help bring her blood pressure back up.

Mrs Cabrera – who was a nurse at the same hospital – died within minutes from a heart attack caused by the toxic effects of Bupivacaine.

The two drugs had “almost identical packaging” and her life could have been saved if the bags were kept in separate cupboards, the Health and Safety Executive found.

The Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was ordered to pay £75,000 in fines and £25,000 in costs by a judge at Bristol Crown Court. The Trust had pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Clarke said: “No one could be unmoved by this tragedy. No one who knew what lay behind it could be untroubled at the systematic and individual fault which this inquiry revealed.”

The midwife, who was suspended and is now retired, “could not have read the label carefully or possibly at all”, he added, also citing the inadequate drugs storage as a factor in Mrs Cabrera’s 2004 death.

An inquest at Trowbridge, Wiltshire, two years ago ruled that Mrs Cabrera was unlawfully killed, also citing the “chaotic” drug storage.

Mrs Cabrera gave birth to son Zac at 8.14am on May 11 2004. She began to suffer a fit and at 10.27am she was certified dead.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said after the fine that the “heartbreaking case” showed there was no proper system for the storage of the drugs at the time.

A similar mistake in 2001, which did not result in death, had not served as a sufficient warning to prevent the tragedy.

Her widower Arnel Cabrera has now returned to their native Philippines and was raising their son Zac with the help of relatives.

He said in a statement today: “It has been six years since my wife Mayra died and two years since the inquest into her death was concluded. I would like to thank the HSE for bringing this prosecution and I am pleased with its outcome.

“It reinforced the importance of the heath and safety of patients attending hospital and in particular the safe storage of dangerous drugs. Now this case has concluded, I am hoping my young son and I can have some closure and put this terrible tragedy behind us.”

Drugs were stored in the same racking system despite having “almost identical packaging”, the HSE explained.

Mrs Cabrera’s month-long inquest in 2008 was told how the hospital’s storage methods failed to meet NHS requirements stating that drugs like Bupivacaine should be stored in locked cupboards separately from intravenous fluids.

There had been two other deaths at hospitals in the UK in the past decade caused by Bupivacaine being administered intravenously, coroner David Masters heard.

Soon after one – that of 74-year-old Philip Silsbury in 2001 at Royal Sussex County Hospital – a memo was sent round Swindon & Marlborough NHS Trust advising that Bupivacaine be kept separately from intravenous drugs to lessen the chance of a mix-up.

At the time the hospital was at its old Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) site in Swindon, prior to its December 2002 move to GWH.

Stephen Holmes, the now-retired chief pharmacist at GWH, sent the memo on correct Bupivacaine storage around the PMH in 2001. He was told at the time by staff that this had in fact been the hospital’s practice since 1995.

However, these storage standards were not carried over to the new GWH site, with epidural drugs stored alongside intravenous ones.

It was not until after Mrs Cabrera’s death that drug storage was brought up to standard.

David Masters, the coroner for Wiltshire, describing the situation as “chaotic”, said: “It seems no-one really grasped the aspect of storage at GWH.”

He said the move to the new site was “all the more reason why someone should have grasped the issue of storing drugs”.

The inquest heard there had been three previous non-fatal drug mix-ups involving epidural drugs being attached to intravenous drips at the PMH before the one that caused Mrs Cabrera’s death.

One involving Bupivacaine was in 1994, while in 2001 there were two others, one of which involved Bupivacaine.

Alfred Tinwell, 84, died in 2000 at Royal University Hospital, Liverpool, after he was mistakenly given Bupivacaine intravenously.

After the case Lyn Hill-Tout, chief executive of Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust said: “First of all, I want to apologise again to Mr Cabrera, his son, family and friends for the mistakes that happened which led to Mrs Cabrera’s death.

From: http://www.independent.co.uk/new-mothers-death-costs-great-western-hospital-pound100000

NHS safety alerts jump by a quarter in six months

The number of reported safety alerts involving NHS patients has risen sharply, with nearly 500,000 incidents in six months.

But fewer patients are dying or coming to seriuos harm as a result of medical errors in England, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) said.
NPSA- more accidents happen to NHS patientsThe figures show that 473,162 incidents were reported between April and September last year, compared with 379,345 in the same period in 2008.

The agency said that the year-on-year rise of nearly 25 per cent was positive because increased reporting meant that lessons could be learnt and patterns identified.

The number of incidents which resulted in death across England has decreased from 1,856 to 1,160. Cases that resulted in severe harm to the patient also fell from 3,643 to 2,412.

However, campaigners say that the level of avoidable mistakes is still unacceptably high.

The most commonly reported incidents were accidents involving patients, such as slips, trips and falls, which accounted for nearly 155,000 reports, a third of the total.

But there were nearly 51,000 cases of medication errors— such as administering the wrong type or dose of drug— and a similar number of delayed or wrong site procedures.

Under a new system of NHS regulation that began last month, hospitals and health authorities could face fines or possible closure if they fail to report anonymised details of “serious incidents” to the NPSA.

However, they are not obliged by law to provide details of such events to injured patients or their next of kin.

The campaign group Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has renewed calls for a legal duty of candour to apply to all trusts, to ensure patients and relatives are given full details if they are harmed.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of AvMA, said: “How can people have faith in a system that puts collecting data before being open with patients?

“We are not saying that the labour Government intended to legitimise cover-ups of medical accidents, but that is the effect.

“One would have thought that recent scandals such as Mid Staffordshire Hospital would have underlined the need to tackle the culture of cover-up and denial.”

Six unidentified trusts in England — two hospital trusts, three primary care organisations and an ambulance trust — did not submit enough data on incidents to be counted in the latest reporting period, the NPSA said.

But Suzette Woodward, the NPSA’s director of patient safety, said that overall the latest figures were “extremely positive”.

“[They] provide real evidence of an improved patient safety culture in the NHS with a decrease in the severity of incidents reported and a corresponding, real increase in the number of patient safety incidents reported to the NPSA.

“This trend is extremely positive and goes to show just how seriously frontline services view reporting and, more importantly, learning from incidents.”

Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients Association, said: “We welcome the increased reporting, but it is appalling that after constant pressure and now even plans to make reporting mandatory, that some organisations are still not reporting incidents sufficiently.

“Patient safety is supposed to be a priority and yet some trusts don’t even seem able to comply with basic recommendations about reporting.

“It raises the question of whether the managers at those organisations really are committed to patient safety.”

From: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7073966.ece

NHS scaring patients into accepting electronic records database

The NHS has been accused of scaring patients into agreeing to have their personal information included on the controversial NPfIT electronic records database.

The agency charged with rolling out the new system is warning of “adverse consequences” if people choose to opt out of the computerised network, which has been criticised as chaotic by doctors.

It is also claiming that the NHS currently has “significant problems” with lost records.

NHS scares patients over personal data

A document posted on the website of NHS Connecting for Health lists several dangers to patients if they continue to have their medical information stored on paper files.

It states: “Health-care staff treating you may not be aware of your current medications in order to treat you safely and effectively.

“Health-care staff treating you may not be made aware of current conditions and/or diagnoses leading to a delay or missed opportunity for correct treatment.

“Health-care staff may not be aware of any allergies/adverse reactions to medications and may prescribe or administer a drug/treatment with adverse consequences.”

While acknowledging confidentiality risks over the digital database, the document continues: “It is … misleading to suggest that not having such a record is risk free.”

The computerised record system, also known as the care summary record, is intended to make it easier for doctors and nurses to get access patients’ medical histories.

But the programme has been beset by technical problems and criticisms. Last month the labour Government halted the national roll-out after it emerged that data could have been logged on the system without patients’ knowledge.

Information about more than 1.25 million patients have already gone on to the database, which eventually could hold up to 50 million records.

The Big Brother Watch lobby group accused Connecting for Health of overstating the risk to patients if they opt out of the system, after a Department of Health spokesman said the problem of lost paper records was not “significant” as the agency claimed.

Dylan Sharpe, the Big Brother Watch campaign director, told the Daily Mail: “If you value your privacy ignore these false and misleading warnings and opt out.”

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/NHS-scaring-patients-into-accepting-electronic-records-database

Health Direct urges you to opt out of labour’s snoopers charter NOW- WHILST YOU STILL CAN!