They are selling


personal data



What is Care.Data?

Who will take charge of the data extraction?

Who will keep the data secure?

What did Hunt sell and to who?

How did the acturies use the data?

Care.Data put on hold

What does Hunt think he's doing now?

Conclusion: A prelude to end of the NHS





What is Care.Data

Care.Data is a government programme designed to extract data from every GP practice in the land. With the expressed intention of aiding medical research and thereby improving the nation's health. This scheme will cost £50m.

Who will take charge of the data extraction?

Atos.... pause for breath, if you do have an inhaler to hand, use it, if not, a small paper bag can be used, take slow, deep breaths.... Yes, Atos, famous for their marvellous performance on the the fitness for work programme and now looking for a quick exit on the grounds that they are reviled by the sick and disabled across the land.

Who will keep the data secure?

However, Atos will only be handling the extraction part. The data will be kept by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). It describes itself as "a safe haven for data".

What did Hunt sell and to who?

The people in charge of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) say that their predecessor agency should never have sold data to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

But wasn't the predecessor agency adhering to the 2012 Social Care Act? Of course it was, it read part 9, chapter 2 Para 254 and put a sign up saying "open for business".

Stop with the nonsense about predecessor agencies, the people who now work for HSCIC are the same people who sold the data to the actuaries. They may have changed the name plate on the building but that's all.

Let's be clear, and the HSCA 2012 makes it clear, that the Health Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) made the decisions on what can be released and to who.

“What the BMA and GMC should do is stop pretending that medical confidentiality exists – it’s over. They should say, ‘I’m sorry but anything you tell us goes into a computer and off to the government and is sold to whoever wants to pay for it’.” That comes from Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University, he spends every waking hour focusing on data security issues.

The professor might be some kind of conspiracy nutcase, except, we have evidence that he is correct, in the shape of an apology from the NHS for selling patient data to insurance actuaries. And very useful to them was, they learnt that the under 50s were not as healthy as they supposed and they recommended that their buddies in the insurance business raise their premiums.

How did the actuaries use the data?

A report from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries details how it was able to use NHS data covering all hospital in-patient stays between 1997 and 2010 to track the medical histories of patients, identified by date of birth and postcode.

They were able to combine these details with information from credit ratings agencies, such as Experian, which record the lifestyle habits of millions of consumers.

The report says: the NHS Hospital Episode Statistics were a “valuable data source in developing pricing assumptions for 'critical illness’ cover.”

Care.Data put on hold

Plans to extract data from GPs surgeries has been put hold, until August 2014. A number of factors are involved in the delay.

1. The government have made a real mess of informing doctors and the public what the scheme is about. They have been using a junk mail leaflet to inform citizens but his makes no mention of any concerns that people have about data security. The distribution of the junk mail leaflet has also been haphazard, with households living in the same area not all receiving it. Also, there is evidence that GP surgeries are as ill-informed about the scheme as the patients.

1a. NHS England have also muddied the water by sending out details of the Summary Care Record scheme alongside the Care.Data scheme. Now, a cynic might surmise that who ever was responsible for this planning idiocy is a halfwit. Or perhaps a halfwit was given the job deliberately to confuse the masses.

2. The medical profession and campaigners do have serious concerns about data security. Especially given the government's record on treating medical data like goods that can be traded.

3. The existing legislation, in the shape of HSCA 2012, does not protect the data or respect patient confidentiality.

4. Hunt is proposing amendments to the 2012 Act to insure that data is not sold to commercial third parties. And crucially to reassure citizens that their opt-outs will be respected.

What does Hunt think he's doing now?

Hunt plans to provide "rock-solid" assurance to patients that confidential information will not be sold for commercial insurance purposes.

He is to put a statutory requirement that any patient's opt-out will be respected and legislation that will prevent the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) from sharing personal information where there is "not a clear health or care benefit for people". And any researchers who wish to access identifiable data must demonstrate "an ethical reason to do so".

Conclusion: A prelude to end of the NHS

This piece of data extraction should not be confused with your Summary Care Record, which allows your data to be shared across the health service in case you need treatment away from your locality. This time, data will be extracted for the purpose of research, so we are told. However, there may be more to it than statisticians creating pretty infographics depicting the health of the nation.

It just might be the prelude to the wholesale privatisation of the NHS. Health care in places like the USA rely on private insurance, what better starting place for companies intending to enter a private English health care system than to have a dataset that provides the medical condition of every individual in the land - sort of minimises the risk for them.

More evidence

In 2010, that Andrew Lansley (the then Health Secretary) was lobbied by three of the largest health insurance companies in America, looking to 'break into our health market'.

Hunt recently appointed Sir Stuart Rose as an NHS advisor, claiming his chairmanship of M&S, would bring in valuable 'retail experience'. Mr Rose is also on the boards of three private medical health insurance companies and is the current Chairman of Ocado. He will not be paid for his 'advice' on turning around the 14 failing NHS Trusts that are currently in special measures. We look forward to reading his report, we wonder if it will recommend that Ocado takes over all food deliveries?