The National Identity Register function creep seems to be gathering pace.
Is the NuLabour spin machine in the person of Andy Burnham, so desparate to find reasons which may appear to make the National Identity Register more popular, that they are willing to ignore the advice from the medical profession and privacy and security experts not to mix up the NIR with the NHS medical records or to include out of date or incomplete "medical data" ?
The Sunday Times April 23, 2006
Isabel Oakeshott, Deputy Political Editor
IDENTITY cards are to carry medical details, despite repeated government assurances that concerns about privacy meant it would not happen.
A minister at the Home Office disclosed it wants people to put personal health information on the cards to give doctors information for emergencies.
Health information about individuals would be kept on the central identity card database, and would not be visible on the cards themselves.
However, Burnham denied the government was now performing a U-turn: “There is an argument to say that if people want to put personal information on the card, they should. It is something we are looking at.
“You could argue that blood group, allergies, donor status, that sort of information could be potentially helpful, for example, when a patient arrives in accident and emergency. People could also put their next of kin on the cards if they wanted.”
The main spurious reason that people think that tthey might want to put , say blood group onto the ID Card is "for emergencies".
The Home Affairs Committee was told in evidence that in modern day 21st century Britain, ambulance crews have access to rapid blood type analysis kits, and they do not rely on any alleged documentation found on an unconscious accident victim - they test it for themselves.
Witnesses: Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Director of Professional Activities, and Dr John Chisholm, CBE, Chairman, General Practitioners Committee, British Medical Association,
Dr Chisholm: There are other reasons why identity cards are being proposed and I think that it would be inappropriate to have medical information contained on the identity card.
Q839 Bob Russell: Why?
Dr Chisholm: Our wish is that such information should be excluded. Why? Not least because we would want the public to be reassured that other people who had access to their identity card were not able to access personal health information. I think that will be, irrespective of technological solutions, a genuine fear in terms of public perception. I think that, as Dr Nathanson has said, it is possible that the ID card might in some way help to link to the electronic patient record in terms of healthcare professionals who have a need to know information, but I think that our preference would be basically to keep the two systems separate and not to include medical information.
Q840 Bob Russell: I recognise the powerful point that you make there but what about blood group on identity cards?
Dr Nathanson: We would want to ask what the advantage was in having a blood grouping.
Q841 Bob Russell: If you are knocked down by this bus in the other town.
Dr Nathanson: If you are knocked down by a bus and it just said that you were ABO group, which is the common blood group, they would not in fact give you that without actually checking it. It takes seconds to check ABO group and what actually happens that takes longer in the lab is far more complex than that and, although I have been a blood donor for many years, I do not know all those complex bits about my own. So, it is unlikely that you would actually have that information for most people. We would have concerns, for example, about allergies. Let us say that it said on your card that you had no allergies and it had not been updated—and I think cards often will not be updated—and then perhaps you might have become seriously allergic to something fairly recently. I think doctors would be reluctant to rely upon information on a card that was not constantly updated. The point about the national electronic health record is that every time you see a doctor or other healthcare worker, it will be updated and it may in the future also, I hope, have patients able to input data as well so that we really do mean that it is a real time record of what is happening in the patient's life in health terms.
If such details are to be "on the database" then they will not be available if the patient is unconcious - how do you type in your PIN or answer the challenge/response questions ?
Once someone is in hospital, there is the £30 billion NHS "data spine" to cope with medical records anywhere iin the country - why duplicate that ?
If you suddenly discover that you have, say, an allergy to penicillin which is then recorded on your medical records, will you be fined £1000 for not keeping that section of the National Identity Register up to date ?