I arrived home from work this evening to find a letter from the NHS.
This letter was informing me that unless I opt out by the 31st of May, the NHS will create a “summary care record” in their spangly new multi-billion pound database. The pitch informs me that in the first instance only details of any allergies, bad reactions to medicines and any medication I’m currently on will be included but “other important information such as serious illnesses, long term conditions and/or test results” will be added to the record.
Now I don’t have a problem with the whole NHS knowing that I have an allergy to penicillin, nor do I have a problem with them knowing that I have an inhaler for asthma. In fact, not only don’t I have a problem with it, I positively welcome that information being available to anyone in the NHS that needs it because if I was taken into hospital for some reason and was unable to speak for myself, it’s important that the medical staff know that I have asthma and that I have an allergy to penicillin.
It makes sense that a serious illness should be on the record but if I’m knocked unconscious and taken to hospital, do they need to know that I have arthritis? If I’d been to the doctors and had a routine blood test, would they need to know? I don’t think they do and I’m not prepared to give the NHS or any other agency that plugs into the database in the future (and there is very little doubt in my mind that this database will be added to, shared and linked into other databases in the future) permission to record any medical details they see fit about me in a database that’s available to tens of thousands of people in the NHS and beyond.
There is no way to control the amount of information that they record in the “summary care record” – you either agree to nothing or you agree to whatever they decide to put on there and whilst you can view your own record any time you want, you can’t remove anything from it. If it was possible to choose what type of information was recorded on the “summary care record” I would happily agree to it but as I’m not allowed any control over what goes on it and where it goes I’m going to opt out.