Tag Archives: smoking

Millions opt out of NHS data grab, forcing it – temporarily? – to go ‘on hold’

Money-making scam: The idea was to make your confidential health information public knowledge, in order to make money for private health firms (some of which are from the United States).

This is a victory for people power.

You remember your Tory government’s plan to give away your personal – private – health records to marauding health companies so they can profit from them?

The plan that keeps surfacing every few years and keeps getting batted back by a UK public that wants this material to stay confidential?

Well, we’ve just succeeded in stopping it again. For the time being, at least.

The current attempt started in May, when NHS Digital announced that, if you lived in England, it would be putting the private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits onto disc and handing them to “third parties”. Almost nobody noticed.

The plan provided an opportunity for patients to opt out – if they did so by a deadline of June 23, which was ridiculously fast. It seems clear that the intention was to pass your information over before you even knew it was happening.

And then organisations like This Site became involved.

I published my first article about this on June 2.

The result was uproar.

Now we see that, after 107,429 people opted out in May, when nobody knew about it, 1,275,153 did so in June – around 12 times as many people.

Questions were asked in the House of Commons and the opt-out deadline was extended to September – and now the scheme is being withdrawn altogether, albeit temporarily, according to NHS Digital.

May we conclude that even more millions of people opted out during July and the first weeks of August?

But NHS Digital is not abandoning the scheme altogether – just pausing it, with no new launch date. Here’s The Observer:

It will soon start a “listening exercise” and consultation process before launching a public information campaign.

Who will be told about it?

In a major concession to critics, patients will now be allowed to opt out at any stage, with their data deleted even if it has already been uploaded.

Am I the only one with doubts about that? If it has already been provided to private firms, there’s nothing to stop them from taking that information off the database and keeping it in a form of their own. If they know it may be altered, they probably will.

NHS Digital is also pledging to increase the security and privacy of the data, even while researchers are working with it.

I do not believe this.

There is a fundamental dishonesty that goes to the heart of this scheme, and it is the lie that private firms care about your health more than their profits.

Private firms were allowed to run NHS services for profit soon after the David Cameron coalition government came into office, in a change supported by many Tory MPs who had shares in those firms.

The plan to give your confidential information to those private firms was first tried very soon after that, in 2013. To me, this was evidence that the Tory plan all along had been to make money for profit-grubbers and not to improve healthcare.

The public has batted it away time and time again since then, but time and time again the Tories have brought it back.

Their latest claim is that

“Patient data is vital to healthcare planning and research. It is being used to develop treatments for cancer, diabetes, long Covid and heart disease, and to plan how NHS services recover from Covid.”

That’s why they want to take away our right to privacy and confidentiality and I don’t believe a word of it. How can it be used to develop these treatments when we haven’t handed it over? And how have these treatments been developed in the past?

The simple fact is that it is our information – not theirs. And if we don’t want it to be shared, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Source: NHS data grab on hold as millions opt out | NHS | The Guardian

GP practice opts ALL patients out of NHS data giveaway. Ask yours to do the same

Here’s an interesting message, publicised by a civil servant at the Department of Health:

You’ll be aware that the Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

Instead, people found out through sites like this one – and kicked up such an outcry that the government announced it was delaying the data upload from the beginning of July to the beginning of September.

Announcing the delay, Health Minister Jo Churchill said ministers would use the extra time to “talk to doctors, patients and charities to strengthen the plan… and ensure data is accessed securely”.

I have no idea whether any of this has actually happened.

The message to Mr Thomas makes it clear that the government hasn’t been talking to patients, despite the assurance that it would.

It also suggests very strongly that whatever the government has been doing, it has made a liar of Ms Churchill.

So the action taken by his GP practice to opt all patients out seems entirely appropriate and I would urge anybody in England who has not received any communication about the plan from the government to contact your own GP practice and ask for it to do the same.

It’s what I’d be doing if I lived in England.

Friendly advice: This is important. Do it now – and don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.

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Victory for grassroots campaign as Tories ‘delay’ giving away your private NHS patient data

This is a victory for social media campaigners like This Site.

The Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

I mean: if you’re in England, did you see the national advertising campaign on TV, the social media and in the newspapers? Did you catch the news spots with NHS and government representatives debating it with some of the many organisations who oppose it?

I didn’t think so.

Yet Health Minister Jo Churchill, announcing the “delay” in Parliament, had the bare-faced cheek to say the government was “absolutely determined to take people with us”.

The impression I get is that hardly anybody knew a single thing about it until Vox Political – along with a few other social media organisations – publicised it on June 2.

By then, less than three weeks were left before the original June 23 deadline for opting out.

So it was risible when Churchill told Parliament “patients own their own data”.

If that’s an admission that the Tories don’t own patient data, then why have they been trying to sell it ever since they formed their government in 2010? Isn’t that, you know, theft?

The good news is that This Site’s article – and those of the other social media sites that took an interest – caught the public interest and the government had to step back.

The Tories wouldn’t have announced this delay if they had not received significant resistance to their plan.

And the really good news is that the delay means more people can opt out of the scheme.

You can do this by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so.

Be sure to enjoy the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. And then ignore it.

Source: New NHS patient data store delayed by two months – BBC News

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If you’re in England, the government is planning to hand your private health records to people you don’t know – again

Readers in England: are you happy that the Tory government is about to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers?

Tory-run NHS Digital will hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million patients to “third parties” to “support the planning and commissioning of health and care services, the development of health and care policy, public health monitoring and interventions (including COVID-19) and enable many different areas of research.”

The announcement is carefully worded to avoid suggesting that your details are going to people who plan to make money out of them, but the simple fact is that, before privatisation was introduced in 2012, nobody but the NHS would have needed your records for the reasons given.

You can opt out of the scheme before June 23 by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so – and to ignore the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. They would, wouldn’t they?

If you think the Tories can be trusted on this, bear in mind that NHS Digital said the data could not be used “solely for commercial purposes”, which means that it will be used partly for commercial purposes.

Digital rights campaign group Foxglove has written to health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting that this plan is illegal.

And campaigners have also raised concerns that the scheme has not been sufficiently publicised. Did you know about it before reading this?

Healthcare IT News quoted Phil Booth of privacy organisation MedConfidential as follows:

“For the Government to rush out a data grab like this, with only a few weeks’ notice for patients and for GPs, is not only corrosive of trust – it’s deeply irresponsible. GPs are the busiest they’ve ever been and dumping this on them without time to prepare and the resources to handle patients’ opt-outs is the very worst sort of digital disruption.”

Absolutely.

NHS Digital is desperate to convince us that the data could only be used by “organisations which can show they have an appropriate legal basis and a legitimate need to use it”.

But recent experiences of health secretary Matt Hancock’s dealings with the private sector suggest that the database will go to anybody who has bunged the Tory Party a few quid over the last 10 or 20 years.

And, let’s face it, the Tories have a very poor record of trying to sell off your NHS records for a quick buck.

It’s one of the stories that has kept repeating over the last (nearly) 10 years, and This Site has reported on its progress:

The Tories tried to put GP records in a central database in 2013 under the Care.data programme, but it was abandoned in 2016 after confidentiality complaints.

My report of the time shows that the Tories are still using the same weak excuse for exploiting your private data, that failed to convince anyone eight years ago:

[Then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] 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.

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.

Same excuses, same failure to publicise the plan… so we have all the same reasons to withdraw our permission. Don’t we?

I reported on it again in 2014.

And in 2016, after a review into care.data recommended that the scheme be scrapped, the Tories tried to sell your information anyway, but just without telling you.

Again, This Site reported on it:

The government’s review proposes to allow medical records from your family doctor, (possibly including NHS Numbers, diagnoses, referrals, prescriptions along with postcodes and dates of birth) to be uploaded to a giant national database – but this time without telling us or asking for our consent.

One of the schemes to replace care.data is called the “Single GP dataset”. The government’s review into care.data proposes to send all patient records from family GPs to the central database without the express consent of patients. Once in the system, it can be “sold” to any customers of the ‘Health and Social Care Information centre”, including private companies.

The government buried this announcement on the day of the report into the Iraq War. It is hoping no one will notice this new land grab on our medical records.

But people did notice.

And now I’m reporting on it again, so you will notice it again. I hope you will put a stop to it again, too.

And then I’ll look forward to reporting on another Tory bid to sell this information.

Judging by experience, we’ll be back here again in 2025.

Source: Privacy fears over NHS plans to share GP medical records with third parties | Healthcare IT News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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My part in the war on drugs

I found a suspicious looking plastic bag, filled with a finely-ground herbal substance, on the worktop in the kitchen just now.

“Here,” I called out to Mrs Mike. “What’s this?”

“Smell it,” was the answer.

So I did. Interesting aroma; kind of sweet. Nice. Mellowing. I recognised it.

But I said: “What d’you think would happen if the police came knocking and found this?”

This is not as far from the possible as it may seem. We used to have a bush growing by the front door that smelt suspiciously like a certain Grade B narcotic substance, that caused many a raised eyebrow among visitors until we eventually dug it up.

So picture the scene if you can: In come the coppers – Sergeant and Constable.

Sergeant: ‘Allo, ‘allo, ‘allo, wot’s all this then?

Constable: It’s a dodgy-lookin’ baggie, is wot it is, sir!

Sergeant: Well spotted, Constable! Now then, you: Wot’s in it?

Mrs Mike: Lavendar!

Sergeant: Oi’ve never ‘eard it called that before. Right, Constable! Take it to the lab for examination! And don’t you open that bag before I get there!

Next thing, they’d be after evidence from local contacts. As this bag was intended for a friend down the road, she’d be the first to be interviewed:

Friend: Yeah, I remember ‘ow it ‘appened. She turned up on my doorstep with the bag in her hand. ‘Smell this,’ she said. So I did. It smelt goooOOOOoood. So I said I’d ‘ave some. Next day she turned up with some more and before you knew it I had a floral monkey on my back!

We could even end up seeing reports about it on the TV news.

Newscaster: A new strain of narcotic drug is sweeping across Mid Wales, according to police. ‘Lavendar’ is the street name for the substance – a name derived from its sweet smell, which is believed to be the reason the drug is snorted, rather than smoked. It is believed to induce feelings of mellowness, serenity, and an urge to make potpourri.

This is Mike Sivier, your correspondent in the war on drugs, signing off – for now.