There has been a lot written about this topic. Indeed there are several websites devoted to it. Some are advocating that you write to your GP stating that you wish to opt out of this centralisation. Some web sites even have a template letter for you to do so.
However, please do not send these letters to us. There are two reason why you shouldn't send them to us. Firstly, there are no mechanics for us to deal with them. Please write to the PCT and the Department for Health whose addresses are on the bottom of this web page.
Secondly, these web sites seem to know more about it than we do. So where are they getting their information from?
From our point of view we would suggest that you wait and see what is officially announced as to how this centralised database really works. The reason why you should wait is because we are waiting as well.
We would like to think that is very unlikely that the database will let everyone and their dog have access to it. We strongly suspect that our patients will only have access by our staff. We will have to wait and see.
Even today, if you are referred for treatment elsewhere then any relevant patient notes pertaining to the problem or any information that would affect treatment would go to the hospital from us or from any other practice for that matter. It must, so that your treatment can be effective. It would also be instant if this was done electronically and probably a lot safer that it is now which is predominately via internal post. Anyone can slit open a letter but it's not so easy electronically.
Further more, we have to report on our patients but NOT individually. We have to gather statistics on all sorts of things such as the age ranges and diseases on patients that have, for example, the annual flu vaccination. We report on smoking, obesity, diabetes, various cancers etc. The list is endless. But in all cases no individual patient information is past on. Neither is it possible for anyone to deduce who is who from the information. These reports are done for the well being of the community so that certain problems can be targeted. Some problems/deceases are local, others are regional. All cost the country money if they can't be fixed. We also use this data ourselves to call patients in for check ups.
A lot of people get annoyed about filling up a form at the doctors that asks them about their ethnicity. They feel that it is an infringement of their rights and putting an "Us and Them" label on them. From our perspective it is none of that. There are direct relationships between the ticks in the boxes and certain problems and deceases. When we cross match this against a patient it will guide us as to whether we need to offer some preventative treatment. When this information is rolled up then whole towns or regions may have to have a special programme to deal with the care.
So, all we are asking is that you think very carefully about what information you do not want made available. That the forms we sometimes ask you to fill is because we actually care and is not about labelling.
Consider a scene somewhere in the Lake District in the not too distant future. You have slipped on a mountain while out walking alone and your possessions are in the bottom of a ravine. You have several things wrong with you that now places you in a life threatening position. You are lapsing in and out of consciousness. The mountain rescue team have arrived and via their Wireless Notebook they access your NHS central records to learn how best to treat you, only to find that you have locked your records so solid that not even your doctor has been given the authority to release the information. You broke your jaw in the fall and are unable to speak..................
Addresses to write to:-
- Berkshire West Primary Care Trust
Atten: Chief Executive
57/59 Bath Road
- The Department of Health,
Atten: Minister for Health