Expert predicts government NHS data-sharing plans spell end for patient privacy

Graeme Burton writes in Computing:

Security guru Professor Ross Anderson has criticised the government’s latest plans to make NHS medical records all-electronic, shared not just throughout the NHS, but with care homes and social services, too.

Under plans unveiled today, all prescriptions, diagnoses, operations and test results will be stored centrally by the end of 2014. By 2018, all parts of the NHS will be able to actively share this data – encompassing hospitals, GP surgeries, and the ambulance service. In addition, health secretary Jeremy Hunt is pushing for local authorities to sign up so that social services and care homes will also have access to sensitive medical records.

But Anderson does not believe that the plans have been thought through and that they would almost inevitably mean the end of privacy for people’s medical records, given the wide access to the records across the public sector and its contractors.