Yearly Archives: 2013

A letter to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph: Sir – My son’s school has just asked for a copy of each pupil’s passport. Apparently, as a Tier 4 visa sponsor, it is required to take “reasonable steps” to ensure that every child has the right to be in Britain. This, despite assurances by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, in a letter to concerned organisations earlier this year, that he had “no plans to require schools to conduct nationality checks on their pupils”. Employers, doctors and now teachers: is our nation of shopkeepers being turned into an army of border guards? Richard Williams Brighton, East Sussex

Papers! Papers!

Alex Matthews-King writes in Pulse: A GP has taken the decision to automatically opt all of his patients out of the extract scheme despite being told it is “against the law to do so”. The GP in Oxford, who wished to remain anonymous, has sent a letter to students and staff at the university “with a further letter to be sent to his non-university patient population shortly” to inform them they will have to opt in to the scheme if they wish to have their data used by NHS England. He was taking this approach, which he understands is against the law, because of fears that the information will be misused and will not be fully anonymous as the Government has promised. Under the scheme, patient identifiable data from GP records will be extracted using the General Practice Extraction System and shared with the Health and Social Care Information […]

GP takes ‘unlawful’ decision to opt patients out of ...

SA Mathieson writes in The Register: One of the first things Britain’s home secretary Theresa May did on taking office was to abolish the previous government’s identity cards scheme. But while she made ID cards history, she is in the process of extending Britain’s range of identity document checks. Britain may be a country without ID cards, but British officialdom has plenty of reasons for requiring your papers, please – usually a passport or a driving licence – other than for crossing a border or driving a vehicle. May’s immigration bill, published in October, will among other things, require private landlords to check whether prospective tenants are allowed to live in Britain, on pain of £3,000 fines. According to the Residential Landlords’ Association, which says 82 per cent of its members oppose the measure, it will mean everyone renting will have to show papers, including Britons – with landlords having […]

Thought you didn’t need to show ID in the UK? ...

Dipti Fatania writes in Pulse: Pharmacists will be allowed access to GP records in order to ensure that they ‘give people the right medicines’, the health secretary has announced. Speaking to MPs in Parliament, Jeremy Hunt said that the Department of Health would be pressing ahead with a scheme to allow pharmacists to access patient records. In 2011, a pilot scheme to allow pharmacists in Bradford access to Summary Care Records was scrapped in order to focus on building ‘trust and confidence in the SCR’. But Mr Hunt has signalled the go-ahead for the scheme nationally. He told MPs last week that ‘there is a lot that pharmacists can do’ and allowing them access to GP patient records will help to improve dispensing of medicines.

Pharmacies to be given access to GP records

The Spectator’s editorial proclaims its own role in pushing “Health Tourism” up the political agenda: In February, an NHS surgeon came to The Spectator’s offices to discuss a piece he felt it was time to write. He wanted to blow the whistle on health tourism. Professor J. Meirion Thomas knew he was taking a tough decision, given the hostile reaction of the doctors’ unions and civil servants to anyone who makes the slightest criticism of the NHS. But the Francis Report into the Stafford Hospital scandal had just come out, reminding GPs of their ‘statutory duty of candour’. The professor said that he would like to expose what he regarded as the systematic abuse of the NHS. His Spectator article was read at the highest levels of government. At the time, the Department of Health insisted that there was nothing to see — that health tourism cost just £12 million, […]

How the Spectator helped blow the whistle on health tourism

Rebecca Todd writes in E-Health Insider: information leaflets being sent to households in January will tell patients that an opt-out of the Summary Care Record scheme will not carry over to a new montly GP data extract. Patients can opt out of both schemes if they wish, but must do so separately. The programme involves taking a large dataset from all GP practices covering patient demographics, events, referrals and prescriptions. This will be linked with Hospital Episode Statistics and other data-sets to create new Care Episode Statistics, giving a more holistic view of patient journeys in the NHS. Last week, NHS England announced a £2m public awareness campaign being run with the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which will involve a patient information leaflet being sent to 22m homes. The leaflets will be sent in January and extractions will begin in spring next year, with new linked […]

SCR opt-out does not apply to

The BBC reports: British citizens will “need” to have identity cards in future to protect themselves from threats, a former security minister has said. Lord West said it was inevitable that the government would have to introduce a “chip and pin type card”. It need not be called an “identity card,” he told peers, but without something “we will be very vulnerable”. Home Office Minister Lord Taylor said the coalition was right to scrap ID cards and they would not be returning. Peers were debating a proposal by Tory peer Baroness Miller of Hendon to introduce self-financing photo identity cards to make it easier for private landlords and others to check the status of prospective tenants when the new immigration bill becomes law next year. Baroness Miller said such a task would be “virtually impossible” for private landlords. But Lord Taylor of Holbeach rejected the idea, saying: “The government doesn’t […]

ID cards inevitable, says ex-minister Lord West

Rebecca Todd writes in EHI (a magazine for doctors): The government will spend £1m sending a patient information leaflet about the controversial programme to every household in England. As part of a joint £2m public awareness campaign being run by NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 22m homes will receive the leaflet in January and extractions will begin in spring next year. The total cost includes around £800,000 in funding for a helpline to answer people’s questions about the scheme, to help take the pressure off GP practices. The A5 leaflet will not be addressed to anybody in the household, but will clearly indicate that it is from the NHS and explain how people can opt-out of their data being extracted. Patients will have a minimum of four weeks from the time of the leaflet drop to be able to object before extracts begin, but […]

£1m national leaflet drop on

Alan Travis writes in The Guardian: A system of identity checks for all, including British citizens, would have to be introduced to enforce the government’s moves to curb access for illegal migrants to privately rented housing and to tackle alleged health tourists, leading immigration lawyers have told the home secretary. The warnings came as Theresa May publishes her flagship immigration bill on Thursday, which will require immigration checks to be carried out before anyone can open a new bank account, be issued with a driving licence or access routine health treatment. The warning comes from the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association: The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (Ilpa) has told May her plan for millions of private landlords to face “proportionate” fines of up to £3,000 if they fail to conduct checks on the immigration status of new tenants and other adults living in their properties, is unworkable. The lawyers say the […]

Immigration bill will require identity checks for all, home secretary ...

Madlen Davies writes in Pulse: GPs have eight weeks to inform all their patients that confidential data from their records will be shared outside the NHS, as a campaign begins to encourage patients to opt out of the programme. Pulse has learnt that NHS England has now written to all practices in England informing them that they must inform their patients that their programme will begin extracting confidential information from GP records shortly. It comes as the Information Commissioner prepares its final advice for practices on their responsibilities to inform patients that their data will be extracted if they decide not to opt-out of the programme. Apparently the eight-week clock started ticking on different dates across England (Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland are not currently affected): NHS England has confirmed that practices in the north of England were notified on 23 August that they had eight weeks to inform […]

Eight weeks to inform patients their data is going to ...

James Illman writes in the Health Service Journal: NHS England’s controversial plan to extract confidential information from patient records to build a national database faces a delay after an intervention by the information watchdog. HSJ has learned the Information Commissioner’s Office met with NHS England last Thursday to discuss legal concerns amid mounting general practice opposition to the project, particularly about the speed with which it was being implemented. The ICO said it was concerned GPs were being given insufficient time to carry out a legal duty to inform patients about the programme, which will link patient data across different care settings, and allow them to opt out if they wish. In an email seen by HSJ, the Health and Social Care Information Centre – which will run the database – wrote to GP “early adopter” practices on 29 August warning they had “approximately eight weeks” before it began […]

Pioneer database faces delay after watchdog intervenes

Madlen Davies writes in Pulse: An LMC is considering a county-wide boycott of the extracts programme to raise awareness around their concerns, in a move NHS England said would be against the law. Northumberland LMC leaders said practices in the region are looking at ways to boycott the controversial programme, which is being introduced by NHS England and will see confidential information from GP records sent to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and shared with commissioners, private companies and researchers in either identifiable and de-identifiable forms. Practices in the region are concerned that allowing the extracts to happen would leave GPs vulnerable to legal action from patients under the Data Protection Act. However, NHS England said that failure to disclose the data will mean practices would be in breach of their statutory obligation under the Health and Social Care Act (HaSCA) to share confidential information with […]

GP leaders consider boycott of NHS England’s data extraction programme

According to the BBC: A call to reopen the debate into the so-called snoopers charter has been launched by Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner. Independent Martin Surl has written to Home Secretary Theresa May on behalf of 21 PCCs declaring their support for the Communications Data Bill. Mr Surl said extra powers were needed to fight terrorism and organised crime. The bill allowing monitoring of all UK citizens’ internet use was dropped in May after Liberal Democrat opposition.

Gloucestershire PCC revives ‘snoopers charter’ bill debate

Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian about the Lobby Bill, which will be debated by MPs today: The “transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill” will treat charities, thinktanks, blogs, community groups and activists of every hue as political parties. From tiny groups vocal on local matters to great national organisations, all risk being silenced in the year before a general election, to avoid falling under electoral law. Any organisation spending £5,000 a year and expressing an opinion on anything remotely political must register with the Electoral Commission. The way permitted campaign spending is calculated has been widened in remit and cut by 60%, so it includes all staffing costs for the year. That will include not only large charities but little groups affiliated to national umbrella organisations whose spending will contribute to a national capped limit. So a Save Our Sure Start or Save Our Hospital […]

The lobbying bill will save corporate PRs but silence the ...

Lis Evenstad writes in E-Health Insider: Children identified as vulnerable by social services will be flagged to NHS staff if they attend an A&E, starting in 2015. The Department of Health announced the £8.6m Child Protection-Information Sharing project to co-ordinate NHS and social services data in December last year. The first wave of the roll-out will see five local authorities and 38 NHS sites in North East London, Wakefield, North West England and North Tyneside, using the child protection database in 2015. The database means NHS staff will be able to access information about children who are at risk, regardless of where in the country the child usually lives. Opting out of the project, run by NHS England, is not an option. The Health and Social Care Information Centre, which has been commissioned to develop the system, told EHI that if a child has a child protection plan, is in […]

Child protection database live in 2015