Tag Archives: choice

If Tories really regret not testing for Covid-19 in care homes – is it because they were caught?

Test: A Covid-19 test. The Tory government failed to secure enough of these – so it seems ministers deliberately decided to sacrifice care home residents to the disease.

The Conservative government made a conscious decision not to test for Covid-19 in care homes – while the disease was ripping through elderly and vulnerable residents.

That is what we’re hearing from inJustice Secretary Robert Buckland.

He says that, after ensuring that the UK would not have the capacity to test everybody who should have had tests, and while sending people who were known to be infected with Covid-19 back to care homes from hospital, the government decided not to test anybody there for the disease. It seems they were too busy testing people like Matt Hancock instead.

And he also says, “We’ve seen a great tragedy in our care homes which is a matter of huge regret.”

Okay – much of what has gone above is me reading between the lines. But you have to do that with Tories because they don’t give you all the information you need.

For example: is it “a matter of huge regret” that there has been “a great tragedy in our care homes”?

Or is it just regrettable that the public has “seen” it?

Don’t let yourself be fooled; if they could have covered up the excess deaths, that is what the Tories would have done – indeed, it is what they were trying to do.

The choices were all deliberate, though.

And they have resulted in at least 20,000 fewer people (so far) claiming pensions.

That is a huge saving for a Conservative government that hates paying money to the plebs – even though they know that we pay into the pension fund for this very purpose.

At the end of the day, we’re still left with two choices: either the Tories have been incompetent, in which case they should be removed from a position of power…

Or they have been homicidal, in which case they should be removed from society and spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Source: Top Tory admits government ‘chose’ not to test in care homes – and deaths a ‘huge regret’ – Mirror Online

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Theresa May’s evil choice for schools: They’ll have to axe staff to afford teacher pay rises

Theresa May: She may think she’s the Joker but this gag isn’t funny at all.

Theresa May seems to have modelled her pay offer to schools on the choices presented by the Joker, as played by the late Heath Ledger, in the movie The Dark Knight.

Her government has promised teachers a pay rise of up to 3.5 per cent, providing £508 million to pay for it.

Head teachers have made it clear that this offer is not enough. They say they will have to cover the first one per cent of the pay offer from their own budgets – which won’t be able to cope.

So, if their teachers are to enjoy the increase, heads will have to cut working hours (meaning there will be no financial benefit to teachers and their workload will increase) or impose redundancies (meaning teachers will be better-paid but their workload will increase hugely).

That’s the kind of choice offered by the Joker in the movie mentioned above; the only way to win something valuable is to lose something valuable.

An example from the film is when the Joker rigs explosives on two ferries, one containing citizens and the other transporting criminals, and tells the passengers that he will destroy both boats unless one blows up the other; anyone taking that offer would survive – by becoming a mass murderer.

Mrs May’s offer to schools may not seem quite so extreme – but it could be argued that she is deliberately attacking our nation’s future.

The school pupils of today are the doctors, nurses, teachers, industrial leaders, scientists and thinkers of tomorrow. If their teachers are worked into the ground, how are they going to help these kids reach their full potential?

They won’t.

And that is what Mrs May wants – because she thinks it is more important to maintain the artificial advantage that the rich have over the poor than it is to give everyone in the UK an opportunity to succeed.

Schools face having to axe staff to afford teacher pay rises, ­heads have warned.

Under a recent Government pay settlement, teachers will get up to 3.5% extra, which ministers have boasted is “fully funded” through a £508 million grant.

But an open letter from four union chiefs to PM Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond says schools must cover the first 1% from their own budgets, already at “breaking point”.

Without extra funding, they fear schools will have to cut working hours or make staff redundant to afford it.

Source: Schools ‘will have to axe staff to afford teacher pay rises’ warn heads in open letter – Mirror Online

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A doctor writes on Sarah Vine’s decision to take Michael Gove to the wrong NHS facility

Michael Gove leaves hospital on crutches after his wife drove him to the wrong NHS facility.

Michael Gove leaves hospital on crutches after his wife drove him to the wrong NHS facility.

Please enjoy this letter, posted by “emigrated consultant” Tony Cartwright on Facebook.

Ms Vine

I am another UK doctor who is writing a letter to government, if only to satisfy my own anger and frustration. You must all be getting quite tired of this, really.

Ms Vine, you took your husband to a 17 bed community hospital out of hours… and you really expected the full flow of a trauma centre ? This is an unrealistic expectation and will never be the case. We could staff Shepton Mallet Community Hospital with a 24/7 radiology department for the use of ‘people like us,’ as you describe yourself and as you suggest at the end of your missive, however I suspect your husband’s friend, Jeremy, and indeed the PM himself may have something to say about that and the funding and staffing involved. And then what…orthopaedics too and a bit of general surgery…all squeezed into a 17 bed community hospital with no operating theatre. What about the follow up – the nurses / receptionist / plastering tech / porters / radiographers. Really ? And the cost ??

Your nearest emergency department is either in Yeovil or Bath, both a fairly tiresome 40-60 minute drive, and had you gone to either of these hospitals you would have had an X-ray at any time of the day or night and been referred immediately to orthopaedics if required, oh, and been reviewed by a Consultant, for urgent treatment if required and/or some conservative (that word is beginning to stick in my throat) management with advice. That would have resolved your issue later on the Sunday, however I suspect you had many more important things to do than ensure the comfort and health of your husband.

It was your and/or your husband’s choice, for whatever reason, to not take your husband to a doctor in an emergency department in a timely fashion following his injury and, instead, to take him to a unit that was never designed to be equipped to deal with a major fracture (toe, was it ?) out of hours. You see, with repeated changes to funding and allocation of resources within the NHS, the local A&E departments that I remember as a child have been wound down and closed. You and your husband have the freedom to be able to choose to live in a beautiful leafy part of Somerset far from the madding crowds and you therefore have to make a little effort to access those services that larger hospitals provide 24/7/365, and you decided not to make that effort. Surely you could have used a little of your husband’s 10% pay rise to cover the cost of a little petrol/diesel and some hospital parking to get either to Bath or Yeovil, both centres of NHS excellence ? Your decision not to is not our fault. Do not blame us for your lack of effort or forward thinking.

To then level your inappropriate decision making at the NHS doctors and nurses, and gloss this with a fairly healthy dose of ignorance about healthcare provision in the NHS, is absolutely disgraceful, insulting, and only proves further how ignorant politicians, and now apparently, also their wives, are. The comment ‘….he doesn’t have a spare half-day to sit around awaiting the pleasure of the hospital radiographer…’ only further demonstrates the absolute contempt in which politicians hold doctors, nurses and other allied medical professionals. Your attitude is disgraceful.

Yes, I am a UK trained Consultant. However I saw what the likes of Jeremy Hunt and yourself are doing to the NHS through the media and government and I emigrated, like many others have done and are increasingly doing so. This does not, however, attenuate my upset when I see people such as yourself, who are clearly professionally ignorant of Healthcare provision in the UK, being so openly vitriolic towards the phenomenal institution of the NHS and my UK colleagues, who are highly trained, skilled, utterly professional and respected the world over, except, apparently, in the UK. You should respect them and everything they do and not hammer them for what they don’t do, largely due to direction from above, over which they have absolutely no control. The NHS is respected and revered the world over. It is the envy of almost every country in the world and you openly lambast it in your paper ? Just think about that for a moment.

Your expectations of the current NHS are completely unrealistic and your demand for every community hospital and treatment centre to have 24/7 care displays a level of ignorance regarding healthcare provision and financing which, considering you announced this in a national paper, is quite simply astounding. This triad is complete with your vitriol and implied criticism of my highly trained, skilled and professional colleagues which is utterly disgusting.

Yet again, the government is serving its own end and ignoring the populace and the entire Healthcare sector.

This is all a bit of an own goal, really.

Regards

Tony Cartwright

Emigrated Consultant

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Greatest Coalition Failures: National Health Service

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National Health Service staff went on a four-hour strike today (Monday) against a pay freeze which has meant one in five of them have had to take other jobs in order to make ends meet.

Health Secretary Jeremy Misprint Hunt, whose 10 per cent pay rise on his ministerial salary of around £140,000 is safe, said the health service could not possibly afford to add one per cent to workers’ pay. The minimum starting salary for a registered nurse is £21,478; Hunt’s pay rise alone could cover a one-per-cent increase for no less than 65 such nurses, and they are by no means the lowest-paid NHS workers.

The strike has come as The Times newspaper claimed that “senior Tories have admitted that reorganising the NHS is the biggest mistake they have made in government,” with at least £5 billion a year wasted on inefficiencies.

The paper’s online version is hidden behind a paywall, but its front page states: “David Cameron did not understand the controversial reforms and George Osborne regrets not preventing what Downing Street officials call a ‘huge strategic error’, it can be revealed.

“The prime minister and the chancellor both failed to realise the explosive extent of plans drawn up by Andrew Lansley, when he was the health secretary, which one insider described as ‘unintelligible gobbledegook’.

“An ally of Mr Osborne said ‘George kicks himself for not having spotted it and stopped it. He had the opportunity then and he didn’t take it.’

“The admission came during an investigation by The Times that has found at least £5 billion is wasted every year on inefficiences, such as overpaying for supplies, out of date drugs, agency workers and empty buildings, a study carried out for ministers said.”

The report raises several questions. Firstly, if Lansley’s reforms were a mistake, that doesn’t mean Cameron and Osborne would have proposed anything better. Tories are almost universally dedicated to the end of the National Health Service and the worsening of working-class health.

Secondly, if David Cameron did not understand Lansley’s plans, why did he allow them to go through? As Prime Minister, he is responsible for the activities of his government and a lack of comprehension indicates that he is not fit for the role – and never was. Is it possible that Cameron was swayed by the fact that Lansley was his mentor at the Conservative Research Department and he thought he owed a favour?

Thirdly, if Gideon didn’t spot it, what does that say about his abilities as Guardian of the Public Purse? (Actually, here’s a link to an article about his abilities in this regard. Read it and weep, George!)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: How did the government let the NHS fall into this terrible condition? For the answer, we have to go back, again, to the Coalition Agreement.

22. NHS

The Government believes that the NHS is an important expression of our national values [From this we may conclude that the Tories (and their little LD friends) decided to change the NHS and make it reflect their values]. We are committed to an NHS that is free at the point of use and available to everyone based on need, not the ability to pay [Fail]. We want to free NHS staff from political micromanagement [Fail], increase democratic participation in the NHS [Fail] and make the NHS more accountable to the patients that it serves [Fail]. That way we will drive up standards, support professional responsibility, deliver better value for money and create a healthier nation [Fail].

  • We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision will have on other departments  [Vox Political has just spent several weeks demonstrating to the BBC that this has not happened].
  • We will stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care. We are committed to reducing duplication and the resources spent on administration, and diverting these resources back to front-line care [Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 was the largest top-down reorganisation ever imposed on the National Health Service. It was also gibberish (as top Tories now concede) and has cost the service more money than it could ever hope to save].
  • We will significantly cut the number of health quangos [Clinical Commissioning Groups are quangos – so in fact it seems likely the number has increased].
  • We will cut the cost of NHS administration by a third and transfer resources to support doctors and nurses on the front line.
  • We will stop the centrally dictated closure of A&E and maternity wards, so that people have better access to local services [The Coalition government has never – let’s have that again: NEVER – refused permission for a plan to close A&E wards].
  • We will strengthen the power of GPs as patients’ expert guides through the health system by enabling them to commission care on their behalf [This refers, again, to CCGs. In fact, overworked GPs do not have time to plan and commission services, and have handed responsibility over, in most cases, to private health companies. This has opened the way for a huge amount of corruption, as these companies may commission services from themselves. More than one-third of doctors who are board members of CCGs have financial interests in private healthcare (NHS SOS, p 5].
  • We will ensure that there is a stronger voice for patients locally through directly elected individuals on the boards of their local primary care trust (PCT). The remainder of the PCT’s board will be appointed by the relevant local authority or authorities, and the Chief Executive and principal officers will be appointed by the Secretary of State on the advice of the new independent NHS board. This will ensure the right balance between locally accountable individuals and technical expertise.
  • The local PCT will act as a champion for patients and commission those residual services that are best undertaken at a wider level, rather than directly by GPs [Fail. This hasn’t happened]. It will also take responsibility for improving public health for people in their area, working closely with the local authority and other local organisations [Fail].
  • If a local authority has concerns about a significant proposed closure of local services, for example an A&E department, it will have the right to challenge health organisations, and refer the case to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. The Panel would then provide advice to the Secretary of State for Health [Fail. The right to challenge seems to have been introduced but has been ineffective].
  • We will give every patient the right to choose to register with the GP they want, without being restricted by where they live [Fail. In fact, the Coalition has given GPs – or rather, CCGs – the right to choose the patients they want, meaning they can exclude patients with expensive, long-term conditions. This has an effect on the promise to provide care to everyone that is free at the point of use, of course].
  • We will develop a 24/7 urgent care service in every area of England, including GP out-of-hours services, and ensure every patient can access a local GP [Fail, for reasons indicated above]. We will make care more accessible by introducing a single number for every kind of urgent care and by using technology to help people communicate with their doctors [The service was launched in 2013 and was a complete and utter failure – it could not cope with demand on any level].
  • We will renegotiate the GP contract and incentivise ways of improving access to primary care in disadvantaged areas.
  • We will make the NHS work better by extending best practice on improving discharge from hospital, maximising the number of day care operations, reducing delays prior to operations, and where possible enabling community access to care and treatments.
  • We will help elderly people live at home for longer through solutions such as home adaptations and community support programmes.
  • We will prioritise dementia research within the health research and development budget.
  • We will seek to stop foreign healthcare professionals working in the NHS unless they have passed robust language and competence tests.
  • Doctors and nurses need to be able to use their professional judgement about what is right for patients and we will support this by giving front-line staff more control of their working environment.
  • We will strengthen the role of the Care Quality Commission so it becomes an effective quality inspectorate [The CQC has been rocked by the revelations of one cover-up after another, involving physical and psychological abuse of clients]. We will develop Monitor into an economic regulator that will oversee aspects of access, competition and price-setting in the NHS [Monitor has been turned into the enforcer of the government’s privatisation initiative].
  • We will establish an independent NHS board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidelines [This is NHS England, which now takes decisions that would once have been in the hands of doctors. It can intervene in the running of any CCG, forcing changes where they don’t fall into line. It rigidly enforces spending limits].
  • We will enable patients to rate hospitals and doctors according to the quality of care they received, and we will require hospitals to be open about mistakes and always tell patients if something has gone wrong.
  • We will measure our success on the health results that really matter – such as improving cancer and stroke survival rates or reducing hospital infections.
  • We will publish detailed data about the performance of healthcare providers online, so everyone will know who is providing a good service and who is falling behind.
  • We will put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records [Jeremy Hunt wanted to sell your health records to private companies. Although the scheme was put on hold in February 2014, it seems to be running now. Your health records may already be in the hands of private companies].
  • We will create a Cancer Drugs Fund to enable patients to access the cancer drugs their doctors think will help them, paid for using money saved by the NHS through our pledge to stop the rise in Employer National Insurance contributions from April 2011.
  • We will reform NICE and move to a system of value-based pricing, so that all patients can access the drugs and treatments their doctors think they need.
  • We will introduce a new dentistry contract that will focus on achieving good dental health and increasing access to NHS dentistry, with an additional focus on the oral health of schoolchildren.
  • We will provide £10 million a year beyond 2011 from within the budget of the Department of Health to support children’s hospices in their vital work. And so that proper support for the most sick children and adults can continue in the setting of their choice, we will introduce a new per-patient funding system for all hospices and providers of palliative care.
  • We will encourage NHS organisations to work better with their local police forces to clamp down on anyone who is aggressive and abusive to staff.
  • We are committed to the continuous improvement of the quality of services to patients, and to achieving this through much greater involvement of independent and voluntary providers [Fail. The introduction of independent (read: private companies) and voluntary providers has been a costly disaster].
  • We will give every patient the power to choose any healthcare provider that meets NHS standards, within NHS prices. This includes independent, voluntary and community sector providers [Not true. The patient never has a choice].

The comments (in bold, above) relate only to a few of the calamities that have been forced on the NHS by the Coalition government (you may be aware of others) – and it is important to add that these took place only in England, where the Coalition has control. Health in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved responsibility but the Tories and Liberal Democrats have tried to influence the provision of services by restricting the amount of money available to the other countries of the UK.

In addition, fears are high that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States of America will “lock in” the privatisation of health services, as corporations will be allowed to sue national governments if they impose changes that would affect a company’s profits. These claims have been rubbished by the European Commission and Tory ministers – but they would, wouldn’t they?

In summary: The last four and a half years have witnessed a sustained attack on the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, by a government that won most of its votes on a claim that it would protect and strengthen that organisation. It was a lie that has caused misery for millions – and is likely to have cost many, many lives.

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Tory policy on ‘zero hours’: Beggars can’t be choosers

140507choice

Isn’t it nice to see some clear blue water emerge between the main political parties on an important issue?

Less than two weeks after Ed Miliband announced that he would tackle the “epidemic” of zero-hours contracts if Labour wins the next general election, the Conservatives have confirmed that Universal Credit – if they can ever get it working – will force jobseekers into those very contracts.

Labour said workers on zero-hours contracts should not be obliged to be available outside contracted hours; be free to work for other employers; have a right to compensation if shifts are cancelled at short notice; have ‘clarity’ from their employer about their employment status, terms and conditions; have the right to request a contract with a ‘minimum amount of work’ after six months, that could only be refused if employers could prove their business could not operate any other way; and have an automatic right to a fixed-hours contract after 12 months with the same employer.

At the time, the Tories said the number of zero-hours contracts had increased under the last Labour government, which had done nothing about it.

This tired excuse has been trotted out far too many times to be taken seriously any more, but it may have led some members of the public to believe that the Tories were distancing themselves from zero-hours contracts as well. They are, after all, supposed to be The Party of More Choice. Perhaps they are, themselves, less than keen on this kind of exploitation.

Not a bit of it!

The Guardian revealed yesterday that conditions will be imposed on the receipt of Universal Credit, meaning that – for the first time ever – jobseekers could lose their benefits if they refuse to take zero-hour jobs – for three months or longer.

Currently, people on Jobseekers’ Allowance are able to refuse such jobs without facing penalties.

The policy change was revealed in a letter from employment minister Esther McVey to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore. She said Job Centre “coaches” would be able to “mandate to zero-hours contracts” – basically forcing them to accept this kind of exploitation by employers.

The DWP has also stated: “We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work. If a claimant turns down a particular vacancy (including zero-hours contract jobs) a sanction may be applied.”

The message from the Conservatives – the Party of More Choice – is clear: Beggars can’t be choosers.

Their chums on the boards of big businesses want more profits, and know the way to get it – employ people on low pay and with no employee benefits. Zero-hours contracts mean you can be made to work fewer hours than you need in order for employers to have to pay National Insurance credits for you. You don’t get sick pay; holiday pay; or a pension. And you’ll probably still be on benefits, meaning the work that you do is subsidised by other hardworking taxpayers, most of whom earn only a little more than you do.

It’s a racket – as bad as workfare/mandatory work activity/the work programme/whatever-they’re-calling-it-today, in which taxpayers subsidise work carried out by jobseekers for participating employers, hugely boosting those firms’ profits while ensuring that the number of people without proper, paid jobs remains high.

Their attitude is that, if you don’t have a job, you are a beggar.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

So they’ll choose what you do, and they – or their boardroom chums – will benefit from it.

If you are a working taxpayer, think about this before casting your vote later this month – and especially before you do so in May 2015: A vote for the Conservative Party means more of your fellow citizens will be prevented from getting proper jobs and becoming contributing members of society by the greedy – and idle – rich.

A vote for the Conservative Party means more of your tax money going to subsidise fat business board members who already have more money than they can ever use.

A vote for the Conservative Party means a better life for them and their friends – and a poorer life for you.

You’d have to be mad to choose that.

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Stalled – the plan to share NHS patients’ confidential information with big business

Freudian slip: The BBC's article on the care.data delay was accompanied by this picture of a hand drawing on a diagram of a pair of breasts. Is this a tacit implication that the Department of Health has boobed? (Sorry, ladies) [Image: BBC]

Freudian slip: The BBC’s article on the care.data delay was accompanied by this picture of a hand drawing on a diagram of a pair of breasts. Is this a tacit implication that the Department of Health has boobed? (Sorry, ladies) [Image: BBC]

A plan to sell the confidential medical information of every NHS patient in England has been put on hold after it caused a public outcry.

The care.data system, also called variously the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) or the Health and Social Care Information Centre, was dreamed up as a money-spinning device by Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health.

The aim is that, if you are an NHS patient in England, your GP will be forced to provide your confidential records, showing every medical condition you have ever had and providing intimate details of your current state of health, to a huge national database.

From there, your information may be sold on to private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies for “research”. A new proposal backed by NHS England (a body set up largely to support the increasing privatisation of the NHS, if my information is correct) would give non-NHS bodies including private companies the right to ask for access to the data.

The government has said the information would be “pseudonymised”, in an attempt to reassure you that you cannot be identified from the information to be provided to outside organisations. This is not true, and in fact it will be entirely possible to trace your medical information back to you.

The government claims the information will help experts assess diseases, examine the effects of new drugs and identify infection outbreaks, while also monitoring the performance of the NHS.

In fact, it seems far more likely that this is a widespread invasion of privacy, with the information likely to be used (for example) to sell you health insurance that you should not need.

We are told that NHS England organised a mass mailing to every household in England, explaining its version of what the planned system will do – but a BBC poll of 860 people last week found that fewer than one-third of them could recall receiving it.

Concern that people are likely to end up allowing their information to go into commercial hands without ever knowing about it has led to the scheme being halted – for the time being.

NHS England has accepted that its communications campaign must be “improved”, although we do not yet know how. A propaganda campaign on TV and radio seems likely.

Every NHS patient in England has the right to opt out of the data sharing scheme, and many have already chosen to do so. You can do it right now, using a form designed by the medConfidential website.

While NHS England and the Department of Health will continue trying to justify this scheme, there is no justification for selling your private information to commercial organisations.

It is to be hoped that this six-month pause will end with the abandonment of the scheme.

If the organisations that want the information genuinely intend to use it for humanitarian concerns, it would be fully anonymised and they would not be buying it.

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Are you happy for big business to have your confidential medical records?

n4s_nhs1

Do you live in England? Are you an NHS patient? Have you realised that your Conservative-led Coalition government is selling your medical records to private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies? Do you know that these ‘anonymised’ records are in fact nothing of the sort, and anyone buying your details will be able to identify you?

Do you want to do something about it? It isn’t too late.

Vox Political warned last September that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to sell records to “approved” private companies and also universities – that’s sell, mark you, to make money for the government.

The system was called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) – although exactly who it serves is entirely up for debate. It seems to have metamorphosed into the Health and Social Care Information Centre by now, but the purpose remains the same. You may also see it described as the care.data scheme.

Hunt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

In fact, the information could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National Health Service, and could help those companies undercut NHS bids to continue running those services – this would accelerate the privatisation that nobody wanted.

This week, The Independent reminded us all that the system that will sell off your information will go live later this year.

The article warned: “Companies like Bupa or Virgin that already hold data on UK patients may be able to use the new anonymous data available from the centre to precisely identify where it has come from, according to campaigners.

Phil Booth, co-ordinator at patient pressure group medConfidential, said: “The scheme is deliberately designed so that ‘pseudonymised’ data – information that can be re-identified by anyone who already holds information about you – can be passed on to ‘customers’ of the information centre, with no independent scrutiny and without even notifying patients. It’s a disaster just waiting to happen.”

The information for sale to profit-making firms will contain NHS numbers, date of birth, postcode, ethnicity and gender.

Patients can opt out of the system by contacting their family doctor, but medConfidential has designed a form to make it easier.

On its ‘How to opt out’ page, the organisation writes: “Under changes to legislation, your GP can now be required to upload personal and identifiable information from the medical record of every patient in England to central servers at the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Once this information leaves your GP practice, your doctor will no longer be in control of what data is passed on or to whom.

“This information will include diagnoses, investigations, treatments and referrals as well as other things you may have shared with your doctor including your weight, alcohol consumption, smoking and family history. Each piece of information will be identifiable as it will be uploaded with your NHS number, date of birth, post code, gender and ethnicity.

“NHS England – the body now in charge of commissioning primary care services across England – will manage and use the information extracted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre for a range of purposes, none of which are to do with your direct medical care. Though the official leaflets talk a great deal about research, these ‘secondary uses’ for which your data may be used include patient-level tracking and monitoring, audit, business planning and contract management.

“In September 2013, NHS England applied to pass on your information in a form it admits “could be considered identifiable if published” to a whole range of organisations that include – but are not limited to – research bodies, universities, think tanks, “information intermediaries”, charities and private companies.

“Though you may be told that any data passed on will be ‘anonymised’, no guarantees can be given as to future re-identification – indeed information is to be treated so that it can be linked to other data at patient level – and NHS England has already been given legal exemptions to pass identifiable data across a range of regional processing centres, local area teams and commissioning bodies that came into force on April 1st 2013. The Health and Social Care Information Centre already provides access to patient data, some in identifiable form, to a range of ‘customers’ outside the NHS, including private companies.”

The opt-out form is downloadable from the medConfidential web page, along with a form letter in various formats, allowing patients to opt out themselves, their children and any adults for whom they are responsible.

This is a gross abuse of patient confidentiality for the purpose of commercial gain.

Don’t let it happen to you.

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Hands off my medical records, Jeremy!*

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

Conservatives. They think they own everything – including your medical records.

If you live in England, Jeremy ‘The Misprint’ *unt wants your doctor to send your confidential patient record to a national database, from which it will be sold on – sold on to make money for him, mark you – to “approved” private companies and also universities.

The system is called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) – although exactly who it serves is entirely up for debate. You may also see it described as the care.data scheme.

He thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

And an NHS England spokesman told the paper, “The programme will provide vital information to approved organisations about the quality of health services.”

Oh really?

So in fact this information could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National, publicly-funded, service, yes?

How would it help in screening for common diseases? This information becomes freely available without any data having to be sold – how else would we know when an epidemic breaks out?

And how is this valuable for medical research – beyond the possibility that the now-infamous ‘job offer’ for people to take part in human medical experimentation may be targeted at particular individuals, according to medical records that they thought were only available to their own, trusted GP?

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Some Local Medical Committees (LMCs) are already discussing whether to opt out of the system – and this blog would urge all the others to do the same.

If you are concerned about this gross invasion of your privacy, you can contact your own LMC and request that they opt out. Contact details can be found on the British Medical Association’s website here.

*In fact he won’t be able to get his filthy hands on them anyway because I live in Wales. The title is for effect.