We need to fight to keep our medical records confidential

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Health Data Word Cloud
“EHR (electronic health records)” by Yann Ropars is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Government is on the verge of allowing large US tech giants access to all our medical records.  That is unless we can stop this process in its tracks.  Health data is extremely valuable. Researchers and academics use health data to save lives.  But, it can also be of great financial value to corporations who exist for the purpose of aggregating data and monetizing it.

An emergency response that seems likely to  be permanent

NHS data is unique in the world.  It is the largest set of machine readable health data and worth over £10 bn per year.   Insurance companies and people selling private medicine are among those who are desperate to get access to it. We have been made aware by a speaker in the People’s Covid Inquiry that our Government is preparing to hand over the NHS data set to  various corporations without our consent.

In March 2020 our Government made an announcement that they were setting up a Covid 19 database.  This was an unprecedented step that sought to collect all NHS and social care data and store into in one place.  This was an emergency response but one we now have reason to suspect may become longer term.

Disreputable corporations enter into our NHS

More worryingly though, our Government entered into many data contracts with major US tech giants.  These include: Google; Amazon; Alphabet and Palantir during the pandemic.  The details of the last contract with Palantir are revealing.  They suggest that the Covid 19 database will become a permanent fixture.

NHS digital will be a collection of all our most personal information from the NHS and social care.  These data contracts our Government signed allow various tech giants access to it.  We are concerned about how secure this data store will be.  And, we have concerns about how these corporations could be using our data.

Our Government has no democratic mandate for bringing in these US tech giants.  But unbeknown to many of us we have the right to opt out of allowing this.

What actions we can all take to keep our records confidential

Matt Hancock instructed GP surgeries to transfer patient data to NHS digital unless a patient has opted out.  But we don’t have much time left.  You can write to your GP and instruct him/her to not transfer your medical records to NHS digital.  Help us raise awareness of what is happening by talking to your friends and familes and sharing this blog post.

You can find out more about what is happening by watching the seventh People’s Covid Inquiry video and in particular listening to the speaker from Foxglove, Rosa Curling.

We will also be holding a street stall this Thursday lunchtime in Eastbourne town centre to help raise awareness.  We will meet at Bankers Corner on Terminus Road at 1pm.  Please join us if you are able.  We will be handing out printed copies of this template letter which people can send to their GPs to opt out.

Please do watch the video of Rosa Curling speaking to find out more about what is happening.


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