Most patients reject NHS database in poll
· ICM finding released at campaign launch
· Leaked report reveals safeguard problems
David Leigh and Rob Evans
Thursday November 30, 2006
A national campaign was launched last night to persuade people to refuse on privacy grounds to have their medical records uploaded to a national database. Guy Herbert, of the No2ID group, which is also campaigning against the introduction of identity cards, said: "We'd like to get up to a million people to contact their GPs."
The campaigners, who are part-financed by the
charitable Joseph Rowntree trust, released ICM poll
findings commissioned by the trust which they said
showed a majority of the population was hostile to
The figures show 53% of those questioned were either "strongly opposed" or "tended to oppose" the centrepiece of the Department of Health's £12bn NHS computerisation scheme. These results follow a Medix poll of doctors earlier this month, which found that 52% of GPs were not prepared to upload their clinical records to the so-called national Spine without each patient's consent.
Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering
Sir Malcolm said: "The case for identity cards or other large databases must be based upon hard evidence." There had to be safeguards in place against potential abuse: "These criteria are not being met on either ID cards or other measures that restrict civil liberties."
Health department officials trying to implement the much-delayed scheme have reacted defensively to critics they call "the naysayers". The government claims there will be elaborate safeguards built into the system which will prevent unauthorised access to the intimate medical details of 50 million people.
But Connecting for Health, the NHS agency responsible for the database programme, suffers another blow today. The latest issue of the GPs' magazine Pulse describes an internal health department report which found that so-called "sealed envelopes" - a key part of the planned data safeguards - were likely to be insecure. The department was hoping to deal with this problem by introducing a further layer of security - the "sealed and locked envelope", which could only be opened by the clinician who originally composed the file. But Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Kingsbury, Warwickshire, who is one of the No campaigners, said this would not necessarily solve the problem. He said: "It's an added layer of complication."
The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Monday December 4 2006
The report below of an ICM poll on individual privacy incorrectly stated that the campaign group NO2ID is "part-financed by the charitable Joseph Rowntree trust". NO2ID has asked us to point out that it has received grants from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, which is not a charity. The trust, being a charity, is prevented by law from funding a political campaign.
fear safety risk from electronic notes
14.11.2005: NHS computer chief in line for reprimand
26.11.2004: Crash landings - government IT disasters
19.01.2005: NHS e-booking plan runs into trouble
14.01.2005: Patients can stay off NHS database