Thursday, January 17, 2008

Opting out of the NHS database

Update: Comment. From a Catholic point of view, the information the Government is gathering will make it easier to do put a 'black mark' on anyone who fails to toe the line: homeschoolers; people who object to sex education; women who refuse advised eugenic or social abortions, or who decline to go back on the Pill immediately after childbirth; anyone objecting to euthanasia; etc.. All this information will be in front of every single NHS employee who has contact with you; it is bound to be made available to social services, the benefits office, the school system and the tax man. Any group the government doesn't like can then be persecuted in a hundred subtle ways. Object to a nuclear power station? Perhaps you knee operation will be delayed. Who is going to stop this happening?

Briefing 10/01/08: the NHS database project is extremely alarming from the point of view of privacy and its liability to error. It will be accessible to all the million-plus NHS employees and also academic and commercial researchers; it will include details of every interaction you have had with the NHS and your name, address, age etc.. It is possible to opt out, but only by writing to your GP. See here for more information; below is a form letter you can write to your GP.

Exercising right to opt out

Dear Drs. ...,

As you are probably aware, the Government is intending to ask you to transfer the electronic medical records of your patients onto a national database called the “Spine”. They intend you to do this without first seeking the consent of your patients. It is BMA policy that patients should give their individual consent prior to their information being transferred on to the national database.

There are substantial concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of information transferred onto the national database, not least because promised software security safeguards called “sealed envelopes” will not be in place and because the patient’s instructions with regard to who may access the records can be overridden. We do not believe that such a large database, with so many staff users, can be regarded as secure.

We would be grateful if you would ensure that none of our records or those of our children, [names] held by you are entered onto the national system. Would you please also file or scan a copy of this letter in our records and also record our dissent by entering the “Read code” - ‘93C3. - Refused consent for upload to national shared electronic record.’ into our computer record. We are aware of the implications of this request and will notify you should we reconsider.

This request is itself confidential. Please do not divulge our decision, in an identifiable manner, to anyone other than to clinicians who are providing care to me and who might otherwise place information about us on the national care records service.

Further information for GPs is available online at

Accordingly, the following seven patients at your surgery should be regarded as opting out of the Spine: [names]. We would be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this request and inform us of any action taken.

Yours sincerely,

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen