Health Service Record Confidentiality

Roger Hayter roger at
Sun Feb 9 00:09:24 GMT 2014

I am sorry to say that your document is apparently misleading!  Opting out does not apparently prevent your data from being "uploaded" to the database, only restricts its non-anonymised use to when the government thinks it appropriate.  Unless the health minister Dan Poulter is incompetent, which is certainly arguable on other grounds.   See his answer to a written parliamentary question from David Davies,
HC Deb, 4 February 2014, c158W

He does not answer the question asked in so many words,  but they could hardly reveal it if they didn't have it!  However, this is described as a "holding answer" so we may yet hear differently.  It is interesting to speculate whether all GP data is already copied to central databases from local NHS computer systems, e.g. for backup purposes.  And whether, despite this, it can be 'spun' as not in the database.

Davies Question
"To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether any medical data will be extracted by from GP-held records of patients who have objected to the use of their confidential information by others than those providing them with care."

Poulter answer
"In terms of information which identifies a patient, NHS England’s “Better information means better care” leaflet sets out how people can ask their GP practice to note their objections, which will prevent confidential, identifiable data about them being used by the programme, other than in a very limited number of exceptional circumstances.

As examples, existing public health legislation may require data to control the spread of specific infectious diseases or the police may require information about an individual patient when investigating serious crime. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and must balance legal requirements, the duty of confidentiality owed to the patient and the accepted public interest in a confidential health service, all against any benefits that may arise from the disclosure.

It is important to note that provisions in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 are designed to strengthen and clarify the role of the Health and Social Care Information Centre so that information can be collected, held securely and made readily available to those who need it in safe, de-identified formats, with crucial safeguards in place to protect the confidential data it holds.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 is clear that

“information which identifies or enables identification of a person must not be published” "


Roger Hayter  (Retd. NHS 31/3/2013 for a number of reasons)


Roger Hayter

On 8 Feb 2014, at 18:34, Mary Hawking <maryhawking at> wrote:

> You'll be opted in unless you opt out
> I put together a bit of information for family-and-friends 
> Shades of 1995 and 2002..
> It would have been useful if the GPs had been given any real information
> other than a letter around August last year saying it was going to happen in
> 8 weeks and it was *their* responsibility to inform their patients!
> Mary Hawking
> Retired from NHS on 31.3.13 because of the Health and Social Care Act 2012
> "thinking - independent thinking - is to humans as swimming is to cats: we
> can do it if we really have to."  Mark Earles on Radio 4
> blog And Fred! 
> -get-it/  
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Tomlinson [mailto:pwt at] 
> Sent: 07 February 2014 18:26
> To: UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group
> Subject: Re: Health Service Record Confidentiality
> A leaflet came through my letterbox this week (the same day that I went 
> off to one of those NHS independent contractor minor procedure units [1] 
> to have a stubborn molar removed by their dental surgeon - he is, of 
> course, not a white anglo saxon protestant (or catholic or..), but 
> likely from Egypt and did a brilliant job, as did the rest of the team).
> NHS is the badge of the leaflet, 'Better information means better care' 
> is the banner. It refers me to:
> - NHS Choices web site
> - 'staff at your GP practice'
> - 0300 456 3531 (nothing about any call costs)
> - 'More details about how we look after confidential information and how 
> it may be used can be found on the website at'
> It asks 'Do I need to do anything?. The answer is nothing if I'm happy 
> for my infomation to be shared. And the vital but naked statement "And 
> you can change your mind at any time".
> So its opt in by default.
> Peter
> [1] 'minor' indeed - in the waiting room I found their poster for their 
> fast track hip replacement jobs.
> On 07/02/2014 16:44, Ian Batten wrote:
>> It seems to be coming from all angles, doesn't it?

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