NHS is planning to store UK patients’ medical histories in a centralized database with access provided to “academic and commercial third parties for research and planning purposes”. The government is justifying the move by claiming that it will save lives and the data1 of patients will be replaced with unique codes anyway, so there is supposedly no risk of compromising privacy. However, the NHS will be able to convert the codes back to data to identify the patients “in certain circumstances, and where there is a valid legal reason”.
Your data are not secure. If the NHS can identify you, so can anyone who compromises their centralized database. Your data at your local GP probably aren’t secure either, but it’s less likely that they will be targeted—orders of magnitude smaller reward simply isn’t worth it to most hackers. But even if this database doesn’t get hacked, the government doesn’t exactly inspire confidence so I’m not enthusiastic about entrusting it with even more power.
These concerns are shared by a lot of people, and so, after backlash, the NHS has decided to delay the creation of the database by two months (from July to September of this year). This is important because you now have time (if you wish) to opt out and prevent “your GP data leaving your GP practice for purposes other than your direct care”. You can do this by following the steps HERE.