A COUPLE have reacted furiously after it emerged their confidential medical records could be offered to private companies.
GP surgeries in England have been told by the Government to supply patient information to the Health and Social Care Information Centre – a public body set up in April to collect and analyse personal data.
A patient’s NHS number, date of birth, postcode and gender are among the details doctors must provide – but not names. Private firms such as Bupa are able to purchase the records for research by applying to the NHS.
It has sparked concern among patients in Derbyshire, including Hilton couple Keith and Elaine Popple. Both found out about the move after reading a notice at Dove River Surgery, in Tutbury.
Mr Popple said: “For me, when it comes to data on a computer, the less people who know about it the better. We all know computers can easily be hacked into. Even the most secure sites are hacked.
“If they get your information, they can clone you and that type of thing.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended the move, insisting that if someone objects to their information being shared beyond their own care, their request will be “respected. All they have to do in that case is speak to their GP and their information won’t leave the GP surgery,” he said.
Asked why GPs were being told to share data, Mr Hunt said: “Sharing information securely is a major part of making health services safer.
“Having the right information about patients means professionals can make sure they get the right care and treatment. Without that information, research to find new cures and therapies for killer diseases and other conditions would not be possible.”
Mr Popple added: “It’s not being advertised properly across the country. If you don’t know about it, how are you meant to opt out? It’s worrying this is happening without people knowing about it.”
Mrs Popple said “I think it’s quite frightening.”