back to article Now NHS Digital is going after data on private healthcare too

The UK government plans to funnel data on private healthcare into NHS systems to address concerns about transparency in private care. Not content with sucking up information on patients and health services across England, NHS Digital – the IT body of the nation's health service – is now angling to get its hands on private …

  1. Richard Jones 1
    Thumb Up

    Not Just a Private Hospital Point

    I wish it was possible to load the stats in some way to allow those who deal with more acute, nearer to EOL, very serious ill patients, etc. received a weighting so that they do not have to complain their states are worse than somewhere dealing with well patients for a grease and service.

    I have been treated in both types both as a privat patient and NHS and have to say that I did not find the two in anyway similar. (That ignores the time I was given someone else's diagnosis of terminal kidney cancer, least said soonest mended.)

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The body has just launched a campaign promoting this to coincide with a new patient data opt-out scheme and new EU data protection laws"

    An opt-out scheme or EU data protection laws? Surely it must be one or the other, it can't be both.

    1. Gordon 10

      They mean both are recent launched. GDPR went active and NHS Digital took over the former opt out registration.

      1. cbars Bronze badge

        I had a letter delivered, which cheerfully announced that as I had previously opted out of I was being automatically opted-out of [something else] - thanks to GDPR. This doesn't fit with my understanding of GDPR, and highlights the 'modern' approach the policy makers are taking by using opt-outs:

        We'll assume you're happy for us to what we want, unless you research our policy and explicitly tell us not to do something. At which point we'll do as you ask [for as long as we feel like it] (and unless you keep opting-out... we'll get you eventually)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          opting out of the new opt-in

          I too received that letter.

          I suspect the point of sending you the letter is that unless you now specifically tell them that you want to opt-out again then they will now ignore your previous opt-out and opt you back in again by default, so that they can sell your soul to Google DeepMind.

          1. g00se2

            Re: opting out of the new opt-in

            I too received that letter.

            I hope you're wrong or i didn't read it carefully enough. I thought it was stating that my opt-out status was continuing

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        I wish that people would stop conflating with sharing data within the NHS. was all about sharing supposedly anonymized data from the NHS outside of the NHS, with people like medical research organizations, drug companies and insurance companies.

        Whilst I have no problem with the first of these, I have some concerns with the second, and violent objections to the last, and there are other companies outside of all three of these categories that were being considered for access.

        It was demonstrated that the anonymization could easily be undone by combining the anonymous data with well known data and information from social media.

        I'm all for making the NHS more efficient by sharing data across different groups within the NHS, because then for example my son would not have arrived at his booked appointment at hospital for a pretty rare eye condition (and thus easily identified from this and the region that the records were for) only to find that all of his previous records had been misplaced, and could he tell the consultant what he was there for!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No-one is considering the small-practice private doctor

    Not everyone can go to the NHS, and of those who can, not everyone wants to, or has already tried the NHS without success and now finds that private practice offers the diagnosis and treatment that deals with their problem. Foreigners in particular find it hard to get proper NHS treatment. Some aren't entitled; others find it hard to get accurate diagnosis of conditions rare in Britain, yet common overseas, like malaria or bilharzia. A great number, for whatever reason, including language difficulties, simply aren't on the NHS radar, no NHS number, nada.

    Now, practically, how are we small practice people to give our data to these NHS IT bods? Legally, we are on dodgy grounds. Morally, just as dodgy. We are responsible for our client data, not this over-managed behemoth within the civil service.

    I can see how it is going to go: they'll want 'required' fields to be completed with data we don't possess because we don't, in our little practice, need it. Small practices have to buy their software; they have to pay techies to maintain secure servers on which to run it; they have to backup the data securely; they have to have it to hand, immediately, when the patient turns up. Some of the software is built for use by medical professionals with thousands of medicines pre-loaded into a prescription database; pre-coded diagnoses; fully-integrated consultation, prescription, diagnosis and etc databases. Others are simpler, modified CRM systems, and none of them, none, will be compatible with the NHS system.

    This is an exercise designed to drive the small private doctor out of business.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    TBH I suspect some privite hospitals are pretty s**t

    and having their stats on file would help spot who are charging a shedload of cash and then dumping any problem cases back on the NHS.

    But no. Patient data transfer sounds very dodgy to m.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One person one set of information

    My wife recently had treatment that started in the public sector, moved to private and then back to public due to the incompetent nature of private healthcare for complex issues. The added insult was that all the data collected by tests in the private sector had to be collected again as they don't talk. I think this is a long overdue move.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One person one set of information

      Yes, I've had the same. The worst was when the private health provider (insurance) decided that I was now an emergency NHS case, and I had to start all the tests again in the NHS system - waiting weeks for MRI's etc.

      I'm all for sharing of patient information within the health providers, just not the sharing with all and sundry, and so I am currently opted out - but having read previous comments and having not received a letter, I'm going to have to check.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My consultants will be happy

    They have more excuse to use NHS resources for their private work, they already use NHS Medical Secretaries and clinical systems when it suits them.

    1. IsJustabloke

      Re: My consultants will be happy

      For which said NHS resources are paid.

      I have a heart problem that's being monitored privately. The various tests are administered by NHS staff in an NHS hospital, using NHS equipment. .

      The tests are done out of normal working hours ie evening or saturday mornings.

      The Dr is paid for his time, the nurses are paid for their time, the hospital is paid for the use of the equipment, equipment that would otherwise be sitting around unused.

      When I was admitted for an overnight stay, I stayed in a private wing that had it's own staff and equipment

      This was explained to me by said NHS Dr and NHS nurse and a hospital administrator when I asked the question.

      Literally everyone wins; I win , they win, the NHS wins from me having private medical. Actually my GP doesn't win because he needs to see me to refer me but he's the only one

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I recently had a private MRI (rather than a long wait), the NHS consultant had access to that.

    Later when the NHS consultant said a repeat blood test was unnecessary I enquired about getting that done privately and was advised that the result would be visible to the consultant whether I liked it or not.

    I was enrolled in the 100,000 genome project because my cancer was "interesting". I had to spend 30 mins with a nurse to read through documentation and sign in about 10 places to say I'd understood the data would be shared - this is for research to improve future outcomes for everyone. I think if you're getting treatment, such as I have had, which would cost tens of thousands if done privately the least you can do is make the resulting data available to the wider community. Maybe that will help a drug company produce a new and profitable treatment and they might make £££ based in part on "my" data. So what? they'll have paid NHS for access to the anonymised data. It may be possible to identify a marker in my genome that identifies a genetic predisposition to the same cancer, so a future screening programme could result in precautionary advice or treatment, earlier diagnosis and treatment, access to a new drug.

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