back to article England's Data Guardian warns of plans to grant police access to patient data

England's National Data Guardian has warned that government plans to allow data sharing between NHS bodies and the police could "erode trust and confidence" in doctors and other healthcare providers. Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Dr Nicola Byrne said she had raised concerns with the government over clauses in the …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge

    Ahhh... Taking back control.

    See the government is doing what they promised. Taking (some sort of) control back from the peasants and giving it back to those in power.

    All is good again.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Ahhh... Taking back control.

      I suppose, because I opted out of sharing my medical data, I am probably now classed by the "Etonians in power" as a terrorist...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahhh... Taking back control.

      Come on, the MET Police need to be able to get the vital statistics/measurements + body weight of their potential victims beforehand, it's all about conducting risk analysis, those they prey on, might fight back or attempt to flag down a passing bus. The address/mobile number on file is likely to be more far more accurate, and those suspicious calls of heavy breathing, even more difficult to fathom. /s

      Who comes up with these ideas? Clearly someone who hasn't a clue about technology and the dangers of even more access to data, without a warrant.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    So now instead of prowling the streets for vulnerable women, they will be able to just query the database and get a list of addresses?

    Or they can get a nice list of chronic pain patients and then check which of them grow cannabis, because they cannot afford private prescription?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prowlers

      Even "better" than that - they can get a handy list of blokes with suitable "issues" they can fit up for it as well!

  3. adam 40 Silver badge

    It's a bit late now

    We could have raised this with our MP's a while back while it was still in the commons.

    What a nasty bill this is - a bunch of racist measures towards travellers in there are well.

    1. MarthaFarqhar

      Re: It's a bit late now

      Some of us did when RIPA and IPA were in the House of Commons. It sometimes helps when your MP makes an appearance in Parliament.

      1. scrubber

        Re: It's a bit late now

        Zoom issues?

        1. MarthaFarqhar

          Re: It's a bit late now

          I believe the spoonerism bazy lastard covers my constituency representative at that time. The MP at the time for RIPA didn't attend the debate despite being asked and told of my concerns. When questioned, he said that he was waiting for the party to give a clear line. After the third contact, he was told that the party were opposing it.

          I told him it was too late, it was already at third reading and off for royal assent.

          Wasn't particularly impressed when I asked what he did to justify his expense claims for London when he didn't bother to visit the House of Commons.

    2. mistersaxon

      Re: It's a bit late now

      My MP is a Tory lapdog, angling for a cabinet post (whereas I wouldn't trust him in a drinks cabinet, let alone a government one).

      tl;dr he won't lift a finger to oppose the government because he's an entitled, self-interested twat and, sadly, he has a safe seat filled with landowners and old people who "just trust the Tories". Armed insurrection might get rid of him (or gout) but the democratic systems will never achieve it.

      1. Wayland

        Re: It's a bit late now

        Same as mine. Always agrees with the gov.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Real Nazty Virus ......

    Seems like Political Party Conservatism and Parliamentary Democracy have caught/been smitten/are spreading the National Socialism bug.

    Who wants to tell them it doesn't deliver final solutions?

    Are MPs and Westminster staff tested at all for recreational drugs or illegal substances? Is the water safe to drink in the Lower and Upper House environs or has it been tampered with? Where/What do you think the source cause of the batshit crazy outbreak be?

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: A Real Nazty Virus ......

      Time to say my goodbyes.... Amanfrommars made sense.

      The world is truly coming to an end.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    And this story is the perfect reason

    Why your reg poll on opt-out medical data sharing is at the time of writing 86% against...

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: And this story is the perfect reason

      Maybe the 14% consider "NHS sharing data with the police" to be a point in favor of opt-in.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: And this story is the perfect reason

        And based purely on the Reg poll, in politician speak "many people are in favour of sharing medical data with the Police"

  6. Cederic Silver badge

    checks and balances

    I thoroughly support the police having access to medical records to aid their role in public safety.

    Limited, specific access, granted by a court signed warrant.

    The police keep spending their timing seeking non-crimes to target people then complaining they lack the resources to investigate theft and assaults, or to address inner-city youth knife crime, or stop people blocking roads and causing disruption to further political aims. Perhaps I'm cynical for thinking this is just yet another work avoidance measure.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: checks and balances

      The thing is it's easier to invent a crime based around evidence handed to you on a plate than it is to investigate a real one. Get more convictions in the madey-uppy ones and you get a higher percentage "clear up rate" and therefore more Policeman Points. Simple, really.

      (Satan icon to indicate high sarcasm levels...)

    2. stiine Silver badge

      Re: checks and balances

      I assume that'll be a checkbox on a web page? Sure, I have a signed warrant, now let me search.

      If the penalty for breaking the rule of this law isn't death by organ donation, it shouldn't be passed.

    3. Jim Whitaker

      Refusing police data and balances

      In a previous life part of my Information Governance job was advising others and considering some police requests directly. In a few cases our response was "No, get a court order if you want this". Mostly the request went away. On a very few occasions a court order was presented. On one occasion I remember we went to the court and challenged the order as excessive in scope. A very much more limited order was the result which we complied with.

      That process seems about right to me.

  7. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Trust or right?

    "If people feel that their information may be used in unexpected ways, for purposes they may not support, this greatly undermines the fundamental relationship of trust. [...]"

    If their information may be used in unexpected ways, for purposes they may not support this is currently illegal in the EEA and the UK. The GDPR is grounded in specificity and transparency. If the UK government decides to dismantle the requirement for these, they'll effectively castrate the entire regulation.

    However, in view of the UK regulator's poor record in pursuing common transparency failures observed over the last three years it's a moot point whether that hasn't effectively been done already.

  8. Woodnag

    Your council will want access... evaluate who is likely to put rubbish in the wrong bin.

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      Re: Your council will want access...

      You couldn't make this sort of shit up. Still can't get over them actually sending a special van round to collect and sift through our recycling to check we weren't "contaminating" it; no wonder our council tax is exorbitant.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Immigrants, lets not kid ourselves here. Best way for the police to find them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hold up. The downvotes are wrong. I have zero issue with immigration. I'm just pointing out the obvious for people that don't understand why this is being done.

  10. Boo Radley

    Problematic At a Minimum

    What if I share with my doctor that I use illicit substances? Could the police use that info to secure a search warrant for my residence, so they could arrest and imprison me?

    What about if I share that I'm gay, for instance if I had HIV, could a future authoritarian regime then come after me for persecution?

    Just two instances that I thought of, I'm sure there are as many reasons to keep one's medical info private as there are people needing medical care. It's a bad idea all around.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: Problematic At a Minimum

      The first point is problematic.

      The second point isn't really because that future authoritarian regime isn't going to care about what the law in 2021 says about police access to medical records.

    2. SusiW

      Re: Problematic At a Minimum

      @Boo Radley

      I see where you're going. Having known a few coppers, sadly that is not unreasonable conjecture.

      Talking of Gay, non-gender-conforming people are going to be exposed as well.

      For instance, people designated as "TS" by The System in the UK have the option of obtaining a new NHS number in their acquired/corrected sex/gender(whatever you prefer).

      As a result, their health records are given 'protected' status so that it requires special permission to access the full record (or at least, it should...).

      If the predators and bigots in the police get access to their personal information, that person could be subject to all kinds of targeted abuse.

      It's exactly this reason that protected status is granted - bigots be bigots.

      Giving open and speculative access is just the thin end of the wedge - whether you be CIS, LGBTQ+, or even from Mars, your medical information is YOURS and should NOT be available to all and sundry, and especially NOT the Gestapo police!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But if you've got nothing to hide..."

    "But if you've got nothing to hide..." they will say

    All well and good until they discover from your medical records you have a distinctive mole on your thingummy and that fits the description of the miscreant

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This was always the end game

    allow data sharing between NHS bodies and the police

    "Sharing" is such an anodyne term. So much warmer and fuzzier than than "police smashing down your door because they misunderstood something you said to your doctor in (what you naively thought was) a private conversation."

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "disclose information to police without breaching any obligation of patient confidentiality"

    The logic in this seems strangely familiar....

    Ah, yes, I remember. We can leave the EU without reimposing a hard border in Ireland and without creating a new one in the Irish Sea. Perhaps it would be as well to see how that conundrum can be solved before creating a new one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you think it's a conundrum now, aka. 'square peg/round hole' just wait for the real divergence to laws in the UK v. the EU to begin... we've not even started yet. Things are going to get very 'Frosty' and, sadly, turbulent. The threat of violence in NI is very real.

      One of the issues I've always had with Brexit is the MSM assumption the entities of the UK and EU remain the same entities after Brexit, to keep thing simple, when discussing issues.

      We have absolutely no say-so on what the EU does from now on, it can become anything it wants.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "The threat of violence in NI is very real."

        I'm afraid you're right. I spent 14 years dealing with some of the consequences back in the '70s & '80s. Unfortunately we've got a government that hasn't learned its history and is on course to repeat it.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          A Slippery Slope into Archaic Anarchic Rule with Reigns and Reins of Terror

          Doctor Syntax,

          Lessons have been learned in NI and the threat of Docklands bombing type violence on the mainland is more likely than any resurgence of Troubles on any part of the island of Ireland, north or south, although more than just a few may realise the power of a mighty mouse nowadays easily eclipses and surpasses the amount of damage that any improvised explosive devices would ever be able to do.

          And that latter resurgent explosive Troubles scenario, should ever it come to pass again and again, would be recognised as being government state sponsored and result in a rich tapestry of Parliamentary estate targets for retaliatory attention and thought worthy devastation and attendant grief being presented to an almost invisible army of practically almighty ghosts.

          Ignore history at your peril.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: A Slippery Slope into Archaic Anarchic Rule with Reigns and Reins of Terror

            "Lessons have been learned in NI"

            Evidence says not, or, at best, that they've been forgotten.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: Universal Virtual Forces with Immaculately Resourced Assets ....

              ..... for/from Heavenly Palace Barracked Sources*

              "Lessons have been learned in NI"

              Evidence says not, or, at best, that they've been forgotten. ..... Doctor Syntax

              Would it be quite impossible and deliberately misleading then, Doc, to not agree on the distinct possibility, and therefore very likely probability, that there be a very select few, well in the lead and way out ahead of practically and virtually all others, ..... and who may also even very well be personages of national and international security interest and already known to authorities ..... who have learned the most valuable of priceless lessons from the shenanigans that blighted and still blunt and blanket NI with coverings of ignorance and arrogance, mindless bigotry and maddening unquestioned hatred?

              Or has that effectively escaped stately detection and warranted attention if suspected of being coercive and/or subversive?

              Should that be the case, what would that tell y'all about them and their likely likeable intentions/possible future plans?

              * Is that a Small Step and a Giant Bridge and a Quantum Leap presently too far for Secret and Security Services to make and take?

              1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                Re: Universal Virtual Forces with Immaculately Resourced Assets ....

                Forewarned is forearmed, El Reg, and just as valid even whenever cloaked in the guise of an Alien Public Service Broad Band Casted Post revealing that the Climate is Changed Already.

                Is that a Small Step and a Giant Bridge and a Quantum Leap presently too far for Secret and Security Services to make and take?

                Whenever it is so, and all available evidence is proving beyond any shadow of doubt that such is the case, it is only perfectly natural and fully to be expected that the private and pirate and renegade rogue and enlightened pioneer sectors take over negligent and incompetent leaderships to do as they wish and demonstrate an activity which has no equal nor peer and against which there is no defence to attack and destroy, deny and subvert.

                Because of that inescapable inevitability, are engagements which acknowledge such Forces and Sources and explore imitations for JOINT AIDVenturing* more than just sensible to have any sort of vital meaningful input into future command and control output .... for mass media presentation advising on the changed state of humanised existence, with the multiplying problems and myriad Oday vulnerability exploit pitfalls ahead if proffered help is wilfully and wantonly ignored, unleashed and released for your necessary attention rather than perverse enjoyment and diabolical entertainment.

                * .... JOINT Operations Internetworking Novel Technologies Advancing IntelAIgently Designed Venturing

                And that's about as much as needs to be said to give one and all an accurate enough flavour of the fundamental tasks ahead to savour and favour.

  14. Clausewitz 4.0

    Women should feel safer

    Upon knowing that "MET Police" now has also their medical data. COVID included.

    Hmmm. or not?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next the Police will be asking...

    To link NHS medical records to any Tinder profile, to save them 'that' extra step after they have arrested someone at a peaceful vigil.

    Sadly the days of trusting the MET Police are long gone, (since 07/07/05, Cressida Dick was in charge of that operation too). I'd take my chances with trusting a random person in the street above a lone plain clothes MET Officer, that's how bad things are. In my head at least - I'd run to the nearest house with a light on and bang the door, as soon as they uttered those words...

    Let's face it, she had no chance given emergency Covid Laws, and anyone that's says different is not giving Everard the respect she deserves. The scary thing is - nothing has changed and this just adds to it all, because access to NHS data will make such situations even worse.

    Even if the Police haven't yet accessed someone's medical records, the assumption in the person's head will be they have, because they can, just like accessing someone's Tinder profile to intimidate.

  16. hoola Silver badge


    I am struggling here to see why the police would need pre-emptive access to medical records. I also suspect that unlike the GP data sharing where there is an endless list of local GP practices, dental surgeries and local hospitals, this will most likely be national.

    It has all the feelings of some knobhead somewhere deciding that being able to add medical records into suspect profiling will add value. The fact that all this profiling appears to cost huge amounts of money yet (from what I can see) produce sod all worthwhile results.

    Increasingly policing is being seen as a desk/computer based solution rather than actually have feet on the streets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Baffled

      > I also suspect that unlike the GP data sharing where there is an endless list of local GP practices, dental surgeries and local hospitals, this will most likely be national.

      In Northern Ireland GP Practices (typically partnerships but larger might be limited companies) interact with other parts of the HSC NI (aka NHS NI) via the NIECR system which has been in place since 2013 - so GPs do not pass information to the destination organisation directly, rather they place it on the NIECR system where it sits (effectively forever) to be used by the intended destination organisation for the intended purpose, plus potentially by other HSC orgs at any point in the future and potentially for other purposes (research perhaps?).

      Likewise NIECR is used by dentists (businesses), community pharmicists (i.e. Boots), optometrists (businesses), Trusts, Hospices, and ("temporarily", for COVID reasons, by Independant Sector Providers such as Private Hospitals).

      Therefore the police could potentially obtain access to some of the NI populations' partial medical information (the portions that GPs, Trusts, etc have shared via the NIECR) without their GPs' knowledge by using legal powers to access the NIECR itself.

  17. Wayland

    Vaccine Passports - Plan B (from outer space)

    Plan B which is for Vaccine Passports will come into effect mid December after the current Plan A fails. The police will need to check people's medical status in the case where they are not presenting a vaccine passport.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm Sitting Here Wondering If This New Law Is Not Actually Retrospective...........



    .....for example, in 2017 the Royal Free turned over 1.6 million records to Google/DeepMind without asking even one of the 1.6 million citizens for permission.

    Where have those 1.6 million records ended up?

    How many other Hospital Trusts have done something similar already?

    DeepMind.....Palantir.....and on (with money changing hands) to BigPharma, BigInsurance, ThePolice, GCHQ.......and so on.......

    .....and all 1.6 million records carefully stripped of their anonymity (such as it was!).

    Just wondering!!

    Quote (William Burroughs): "The paranoid is a person who knows a little of what is going on."

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