February 3, 2013
- +Data includes weight, cholesterol, BMI, family health history and pulse rate
- +Doctors will be forced to reveal alcohol consumption and smoking status
- +Privacy campaigners described it as 'biggest data grab in NHS history'
- +Part of new Health Service programme called Everyone Counts
- +Officials insisted data will be anonymous and deleted after analysis
GPs are to be forced to hand over confidential records on all their patients’ drinking habits, waist sizes and illnesses.
The files will be stored in a giant information bank that privacy campaigners say represents the ‘biggest data grab in NHS history’.
They warned the move would end patient confidentiality and hand personal information to third parties.
Data grab: Doctors will be forced to hand over sensitive information about patients as part of a new programme called Everyone Counts but campaigners have criticised the move
The data includes weight, cholesterol levels, body mass index, pulse rate, family health history, alcohol consumption and smoking status.
Diagnosis of everything from cancer to heart disease to mental illness would be covered. Family doctors will have to pass on dates of birth, postcodes and NHS numbers.
Officials insisted the personal information would be made anonymous and deleted after analysis.
But Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, said: ‘Under these proposals, medical confidentiality is, in effect, dead and there is currently nobody standing in the way.’ Nick Pickles, of the privacy group Big Brother Watch, said NHS managers would now be in charge of our most confidential information.
He added: ‘It is unbelievable how little the public is being told about what is going on, while GPs are being strong-armed into handing over details about their patients and to not make a fuss.
‘Not only have the public not been told what is going on, none of us has been asked to give our permission for this to happen.’
The data grab is part of Everyone Counts, a programme to extend the availability of patient data across the Health Service.
Campaigners for privacy: They warn the move would end patient confidentiality and hand personal information to third parties
GPs will be required to send monthly updates on their patients to a central database run by the NHS’s Health and Social Care Information Centre.