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NHS Could Face Legal Action Over 'Rushed' Opt-Out Deadline

Sun Jun 06 2021

The DHSC could be facing legal action amidst claims of 'rushed' opt-out deadline – leaving the NHS records open to third party acquisition of sensitive data.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) could face possible legalaction if it doesn’t extend 23rd of June opt-out deadline.

As cloudThing previously reported, in a move directed by Matt Hancock on May 12th, NHS Digital is currently updating its current practices – putting sensitive data at risk of being saleable to third parties.

However - many organisations are nowpursuing legal action to stop this, including openDemocracy, Just Treatment, Doctors' Association UK, The Citizens, the National Pensioners Convention and David Davis MP through the legal firm Foxglove.

Campaigners have also been highlighting the problem with pseudonymisation. Although the NHS obscures personal data of patients, it holds the decryption key, meaning the NHS can re-identify data in “certain circumstances” and “where there is valid and legal reason to do so”.

This risk of re-identification means pseudonymisation of data falls under the terms of GDPR – after the June 23rd deadline patients can restrict new information from being uploaded into the new system but not the data that already existed in their records.

The decision to re-platform the NHS patient’s medical records into a unified database is a viable step into future-proofing the NHS, but the backlash lies in what the NHS is planning to do with that information.

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For many patients this is not just about their data - it's about the future of the NHS. We're sleepwalking into a health system where profits are prioritised over patients, with big tech and pharma corporations at the helm, shaping every decision about the care NHS patients receive.

Diarmaid McDonnell, Just Treatment

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The worries that the sensitive data could be sold off to private insurance companies are in response to the lack of information of commercial organisations to which data could be sold.

The details the NHS will have access to include diagnoses, physical / mental health, sex life / sexual orientation, lifestyle, social circumstances, religion, ethnicity, patient demographics, test results, medications, referrals and appointments.

Campaigners’ have concerns over who this gold-mine of data could be sold off to.

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We only seek to recover costs associated with providing data to meet approved data applications. We do not operate on a profit-making basis. Data will only be used for the benefit of health and care

NHS Digital Spokesperson

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Sun Jun 06 2021

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