There should be no question that the privacy and security of medical records is essential, not just to protect an individual's human rights, but to protect the health of the whole country from the under reporting of infectious diseases and other general health hazards.
The National Health Service "data spine" has been controversial amongst medical practioners, most of whom do not feel that they have been adequately consulted. There has been no consultation whatsover with the vast majority of National Health Service patients, i.e. most of the population of the country
The BBC reports:
"Privacy fears over NHS database A new NHS computer database may threaten the privacy of patients' medical records, the BBC has learnt.
A senior Department of Health civil servant said people would not be able to decide what details are stored.
Critics say this goes against earlier government assurances that patients would be able to veto the information.
The DoH said people can still discuss with their doctor what details are recorded and control who can access them - except in an emergency.
The database, which is being installed as part of the NHS's £6.2bn IT upgrade, allows staff to access medical records wherever someone is treated. Experts have warned the final cost of the system could hit £31bn."
The massively risk of your confidential medical records being "socially engineered", bribed or coerced from the tens of thousands of authorised users of this system, as opposed to the handful of people who currently have access to them has not been addressed properly.
Where is the full audit trail, which you as a patient can inspect, of who exactly has accessed your medical records, when, where and for what reason ?
Phil Walker, the DoH's head of digital information policy, made the privacy claims in an email to a Warwickshire GP.
The BBC's Andrew Hosken said Mr Walker stated patients do not have any right to determine what information is recorded about them by doctors, or to veto how it is recorded.
The British Medical Association said this appears to contradict earlier ministerial assurances that patients will be able to withhold sensitive information from the database, to be introduced later this year.
Health Minister John Hutton has said patients would have the right not to have their medical records stored electronically at all.
A second option of sealing the most sensitive data in an "electronic envelope" for use only in emergencies is also being offered.
However, Mr Hutton said: "I believe very few people will opt out of the records.
Presumably this will be because most patients will not have had the pros and cons fully explained to them, and the Government will make use of inertia selling (an illegal practice in the finance industry). Patients should have the choisce to opt in to the system, after full consultation.
"I hope and believe that patients will want to be part of this because it will help to save people's lives."
Richard Granger, director general for NHS IT, said the scheme was more secure than the old paper records system."
It may well be true that an electronic medical record can be made more secure than a paper based one, but that is not necessarily true of a centralised mnational database, where many thousands more authorised users have the ability to access those medical records, compared with locally stored paper or even electronic records stored locally within a General Practioner's office or a local hospital.
There are unresolved non-technical privacy and security policy issues which, scandalously, have not been sorted out before literally billions of pounds of taxpayers money have been poured into this Government IT project, the cost of which continues to overrun the original estimates and promises.
The experience with this National Health Service IT project is one of the major reasons for not believing the Labour Government's vague, and mostly still secret, guesses about the cost and complexity of their proposed National Identity Register and ID Card scheme.