Patients have been misled by claims from Bolton Health Service managers that the NHS database proposals are supported by local GPs. Bolton’s local GP committee has confirmed that a majority of its members believed “the scheme was not in the best interests of patients”*. The false reassurance was made in the recent letter sent by the Primary Care Trust to all patients in Bolton encouraging them not to opt out of the IT proposals. Bolton is a pilot area for Summary Care Records.
Literature made available to patients claims that their records will be secured by use of NHS smartcards, despite that fact that the use of these has been shown to be deeply flawed in practice, and states that patients will be able to secure particular details though ‘sealed envelopes’ – the technology intended for this purpose – remain unimplemented, with no chance of it being in place before Bolton patients’ information is uploaded.
Commenting on these latest revelations, TBOO’s national coordinator, Helen Wilkinson-Makey, said:
“The people of Bolton are being treated worse than guinea pigs. GPs’ opinions are being misrepresented and patients are being deceived. Department of Health claims that the system will be secure are just so much hot air, and they know it. People have every right to feel bullied and misled.
“TheBigOptOut.org urges everyone in Bolton with concerns about the privacy and security of their medical records to opt out now. You can always opt back in later, if the system proves trustworthy.”
Dr Paul Thornton, GP and IT campaigner, said:
“Bolton GP’s have kept your sensitive information private from the day you were born. Indeed, with IVF your personal data may go back further! GP’s have not released information in the past without a clear indication of your wishes. GP’s need you to make your real views known and will support your decision.”
* The May edition of Bolton’s Local Medical Committee newsletter clearly states: “…the majority of the Committee agree[ing] that they believed that it was not in the best interests of patients to introduce this new scheme”, contradicting a letter sent on 18/5/07 by the Chief Executive of the Primary Care Trust, intended for all patients. See also GPs blast online patient records scheme, The Bolton News, 30/5/07