About the campaign
The NHS Confidentiality campaign was set up to protect patient confidentiality and to provide a focus for patient-led opposition the government’s NHS Care Records System. This system is designed to be a huge national database of patient medical records and personal information (sometimes referred to as the NHS ‘spine’) with no opt-out mechanism for patients at all. It is being rolled out during 2007, and is objectionable for many of the same reasons as the government’s proposed ID database.
Your medical confidentiality is at risk from this new database, as over a million NHS employees and central government bureaucrats will have access to not only your medical records but also your demographic details name, address, NHS Number, GP details, phone number (even if it’s ex-directory) and mobile number.
There is no opt out whatsoever for your demographic details. You can only have them hidden in special circumstances if the police or social services request it if, for example, you are a celebrity or on a witness protection scheme. Many public and private sector workers will otherwise have access to your address and phone number, from social workers to pharmacists.
You will eventually be allowed to ‘lock down’ some of your medical details (though the security mechanisms haven’t been built yet). But although you can keep some of your medical details confidential from some of the doctors involved in your care, they can override this if they think it’s necessary, and there is no way for you to keep your information confidential from civil servants. You will no longer be able to attend any Sexual Health or GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) Clinic anonymously as all these details will also be held on this national database, alongside your medical records. For the first time everyone’s most up-to-date and confidential details are to be held on one massive database.