The NHS plan to stick all our data (“anonymised” for sensitive data in a way that will send you to a dictionary to see if you got the word “anonymised” mixed up with another word like “publicised”) has been temporaily shelved – until people forget that it’s an ongoing scandal. Or it gets overtaken by the new shock-horror of selling off our tax data…. from the BBC.
The HMRC plan is currently undergoing a transparent consultation process, so getting detail from the web is hard. However, even trying to find out about the NHS plans is illuminating enough. They’ve sort of embuggerated their website explanations so it’s close to impossible to work out what is currently included in what pile of NOTpersonal data. But the site Connecting for Health has information – which is apparently no longer relevant but which redirects me to a site where I can’t find any real information at all. (HSCIC)
Information held on the Patient Demographic Service
The PDS only contains demographic details about a patient. No clinical or sensitive information is held on itPDS fields. Here are a few of the fields involved and what each is for:
PDS field Description of data
NHS Number The unique patient identifier.
Patient name Including any previous names, aliases and preferred name, e.g. Chris rather than Christopher.
Date of birth
Includes main, temporary and correspondence addresses.
The patient’s legal guardian, proxy, family/close contact.
Telecommunication contact details Contact details such as telephone number, fax number and email address.
NHS Care Record consent to share status Indicates that the patient has agreed to share their health record. (Oh, the irony)
I assume that HMRC also have a master index file like this.
General good advice: Never blame on a conspiracy what can be safely attributed to human stupidity.
I shall heed this advice and assume that the people who think it’s a good idea to do this are just ignorant. Can we all club together and send them on a comprehensive course on 21st century data mining? This was David Davis (aka, “the only good Tory, despite his excremental views on many other topics”) reported in the Guardian:
The Tory MP David Davis, a former minister and shadow home secretary, described the proposal as “borderline insane”, adding: “The Treasury lists no credible benefits and offers a justification based on an international agreement that does not lead other governments to open up their tax database,” he said. “The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age. Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse.
“It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously.”