Care.data: take a look at what the Health & Social Care Act says
This morning you could hear John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme trying to get his head round the confidentiality issues on the collection by a new NHS organisation of all medical records from GPs’ surgeries – and their dissemination to others.
The man behind this scheme is Tim Kelsey (NHS National Director for Patients and Information.) He told Today there was no chance that confidential information revealing the identity of the person the records were about, would ever leak out.
Humphrys should have asked him what section 256 of the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act really means.
This quotation from the Act probably needs to be read in a very quiet place:
“Requests for collection under section 255: confidential information
(1)A request under section 255 is a confidential collection request if it is a request for the Information Centre to establish and operate a system for the collection of information which is in a form which— (a)identifies any individual to whom the information relates who is not an individual who provides health care or adult social care, or (b)enables the identity of such an individual to be ascertained.
(2)A person may make a confidential collection request under section 255 only if the request— (a)is a mandatory request, (b)relates to information which the person making the request (“R”) may require to be disclosed to R or to the Information Centre by the person holding it, or (c)relates to information which may otherwise be lawfully disclosed to the Information Centre or to R by the person holding it.”
Section 255 does say “the Secretary of State may direct the Information Centre not to comply with a request specified in the direction which is not a mandatory request.” But it also says he “may direct the Information Centre to comply with a request specified in the direction which was made by a person outside England.”
This last sentence is probably there to ease the way for American companies to enter the health service in England under the forthcoming trade deal between the EU and the USA.