There are various components to NHS Care Records:
- Personal Demographic Service – this comprises your name, address, date of birth, NHS number and GP details. These details will be available to everyone in the NHS unless you are ’stop-noted’ (your details are hidden). Even high street pharmacists will be able to access these details. You may request your data to be stop-noted if you are a victim of domestic violence or in a witness protection program, for example.
- Summary Care Record – this includes all your major illnesses, allergies, prescriptions, etc. Unless you specifically elect not to have these clinical details uploaded to the national database, you will be presumed to have consented to them being on the database (this is called “implicit consent”). Once again, these clinical details will be available nationally. High street pharmacists are arguing that they should have access to this record and be able to amend it.
- NHS Care Records – these include all your detailed medical records, i.e. all your GP consultations, all your hospital consultations, and everything you tell your GP or consultant in confidence. These records will stored around the country in regional shared hosting centres. Patients are completely unable to opt out of having their detailed NHS Care Records stored at these centres. Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorites all share these hosting centres and records.
- Sealed Envelopes – these are supposed to be under development so that patients can restrict access to their most sensitive medical records such as mental health and terminations of pregnancy. However, even if you place your most sensitive details in these envelopes they will still be stored at the regional hosting centres; the seal can be broken by a doctor/NHS employee in an emergency. As yet sealed envelopes have not been developed and the Care Records will go live without them. (A consultants’ report said the envelopes might not work well and that sensitive data would be better stored locally.) So your detailed medical records will be widely accessible in your region.
- Hosting Centres – these are region-based. Hence all your detailed and sensitive medical records will be available at a regional level to anyone in the NHS who asserts they have a need to know. Someone in a neghbouring GP surgery or hospital will be able to access them.
- Secondary Uses Service – every time you attend a hospital appointment your post code, date of birth, GP details, consultant details, outpatient clinic, inpatient admission, procedure, cost and whether you are to be followed up is all sent by the hospital to BT. Prior to BT taking over this function your details where previously sent by the Hospital Trust to the NWCS Clearnet database which was run by a private company in Warwick. All these details will be stored at the regional hosting centre and can accessed by your local Primary Care Trust, Strategic Health Authority and the Department of Health via the SUS database that BT now manage. Medical researchers and even ‘Dr Foster’ are allowed access to all this personal and clinical information. For more details, read on…