The National Health Service (NHS) is a state organisation that provides health care in Great Britain. Since devolution, the NHS has been split into three local divisions:

  • NHS England - managed by the Department of Health of the British government
  • NHS Scotland - managed by the Health Department of the Scottish Executive
  • GIG Cymru (NHS Wales) - managed by the Health & Social Care Department of the Welsh Assembly Government

The UK government is building a national database of medical records, a project which many doctors oppose; in a Medix poll over half of all GPs said they would not upload their patients' data without consent [1] [2].

Also see The Big Opt Out. A campaign set up to protect patient confidentiality and to provide a focus for patient-led opposition the government's NHS Care Records System.


The police will be able to gain access to a patients health record. [3]

"Data from the secondary uses service will only be disclosed to the police where it is in the overriding public interest, for example to prevent, or support detection of, extremely serious crimes, where there is statutory authority, or where the courts have made an order requiring disclosure."

When Ben Bradshaw MP was asked whether patients would be able to opt out of the care records service, he answered it by referring solely to the SCR [4] The new centralised system has at least three components holding large amounts of identifiable health information - SUS, the SCR, and the Detailed Care Record (DCR).

Many government departments have declared intentions to use identifiable health data, such as the Home Office's ONSET database that tries to predict which children will offend. GP data has already been used to hunt illegal migrants.


"For example, the fact that systems are 'hosted' – that is, the patient data from records to X-ray images are kept at an LSP hosting centre rather than at the hospital itself - makes operations critically dependent on the availability of the hosting service and of the communications to it." ...
"A future failure of the Internet could thus leave England's hospitals without access to medical records and radiology images, reducing them to operating under field-hospital conditions."
"Problems with the new systems are so pervasive and severe that a group of 23 professors of computer science (of which I am a member) has called on the Health Select Committee to review NPfIT; and recently the responsible minister, Lord Warner, has resigned."

Under threat: patient confidentiality and NHS computingRoss Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering, Cambridge University

Care Records Service (care.data)

As part of an upgrade of its IT network NHS England plans to create a centralised national database of patients' medical records, called the NHS Care Records Service. This move has proved controversial, with many people expressing concerns about confidentiality and choice.

British Medical Association's (BMA) chair, Dr Hamish Meldrum, has called for a halt to further implementation of the NHS summary care record, beyond six early adopter sites, until an independent review has been completed. In a letter to Ben Bradshaw, the minister responsible for the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), Dr Meldrum says that at a recent BMA meeting, doctors from primary and secondary care expressed their frustration with the programme and want a public enquiry to address problems. A BMA paper accompanying Dr Meldrum's letter says that one of the association's prime concerns about NPfIT relates to security and confidentiality controls.

Initially the Department of Health (DoH) stated that patients would not have any say in whether their records were included in the database or the content of those records but this position has since changed.

A pilot project begun in Spring 2007, at "early adopter sites"[5]. Patients at these sites will be able to "add comments to their record and request that any part be removed."[6] It's expected that there will be two options for reviewing records:

If neither of these options are taken up and the patient hasn't explicitly stated that they wish to opt out, it will be assumed that the patient is implicitly consenting for their records to be added without change.

The DoH intend to use the pilot project to inform their plans for implementing the service nationwide.




2009-04-12 - The Guardian - BT faces multimillion pound writedown on NHS computer upgrade
Author: Simon Bowers
Summary: BT Group will next month become the third major contractor in as many years to take a multimillion pound writedown on its work with the government’s crisis-stricken £12.7bn overhaul of the NHS computer system. ... A poor-performing BT contract to install NHS computer systems in the capital will be the main element in a £1bn-plus package of writedowns when the company reports full-year results next month.
2009-04-09 - The Register - Summary care records - you might die, but they never will
Author: John Oates
Summary: Patients can decide whether or not to have their Summary Care Records included on the NHS national database, but if they change their mind afterwards there is no way to delete the record.
2009-04-07 - ZDNet - BT deal quashes rumours of NHS IT pull-out
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: BT Global Services (BTGS), one of only two suppliers left for the £12.7bn project to revamp NHS IT has staked its commitment to the project by signing a new deal with the health service. Dr Grant Ingrams, chairman of the British Medical Association joint GP IT Committee, said BT's commitment offered some encouragement as the NPfIT had already lost enough suppliers with the departure of Fujitsu and Accenture. "I hope that this means that hospitals in the south will now start to get proper clinical systems," he said.
2009-03-09 - The Register - Scottish hospitals laid low by malware infection
Author: John Leyden
Summary: Appointments for cancer patients had to be rescheduled after a computer virus infected the networking systems at two Scottish hospitals last week. ... Systems were taken offline for two days to allow computer technicians to clean up the mess.
2009-03-04 - Computer World - Government's NHS patient data sharing plans torn apart by professional bodies
Author: Leo King
Summary: The British Medical Association and seven other healthcare organisations have launched a scathing attack on plans to share NHS patient records across government departments and third party businesses. They are the latest organisations to express their anger in a growing furore over proposals in the controversial Coroners and Justice bill, in which one provision calls for changes to the Data Protection Act to allow extensive sharing of patient records. They said sharing data could undermine patients' trust.
2009-02-25 - Kable - NPfIT software unsuited to mobile use
Summary: Core National Programme for IT software 'has not been developed for a mobile environment', according to the NHS's chief technology officer. Dr Paul Jones, who works for the National Programme's controller NHS Connecting for Health, said that its applications could be connected and integrated with mobile systems. However, some were not themselves able to run on the mobile devices increasingly used within healthcare.
2009-02-14 - The Guardian - Data bill jeopardises confidentiality, say doctors' leaders
Author: John Carvel
Summary: The confidentiality of medical records is threatened by government plans to relax laws on data protection, doctors' leaders told the Guardian yesterday. Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, said the profession was "extremely concerned" about legislation tabled by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, which would allow the Department of Health to share information on NHS databases with other ministries and private companies.
2009-02-12 - Daily Mail - Chemists could be given access to patient data
Summary: High street pharmacists will be able to view patients' medical records under controversial plans, it emerged last night. The move is intended by the Government to improve patient care and ensure chemists give the best medicines and advice. But doctors and campaigners warn patient confidentiality could be put at serious risk. Dr Laurence Buckman, of doctors group the BMA, said: 'We have concerns about a situation where pharmacists have limited space, and are viewing sensitive information about patients on a terminal in a busy shop.
2009-02-05 - Pulse - Patient records 'could be used for targeting terrorists' under Justice Bill
Author: Nigel Praities
Summary: Patient care records will be freely circulated among Government departments and could be used for targeting suspected terrorists under new legislation that has horrified IT experts. The draft Coroners and Justice Bill will allow any minister to circumvent data protection legislation and grant access to summary care record data without seeking patient consent.
2009-01-24 - The Sun - North patients hit by records loss
Author: Adam Jupp
Summary: North East Strategic Health Authority has lost at least 175 patient records. NHS chiefs admit they do not know the precise number of records - which can include anything from ex-directory phone numbers to a patient's HIV status - that have gone astray. That includes 32 files from the Northumberland Care Trust being "lost in transit", relating to a CD containing the records being lost by Royal Mail.
2009-01-24 - BBC - Patient records on stolen laptop
Summary: 5,000 patients medical records have been stolen on a laptop from Singleton Hospital in Swansea. The loss occured last April but only reported today. 24 July 2009
2009-01-24 - Wales Online - Outrage over lost patient records at Welsh NHS Trust
Author: Madeleine Brindley
Summary: Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust have lost a memory stick containing undisclosed amount of patient information
2009-01-20 - The Register - Conficker seizes city's hospital network
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Staff at hospitals across Sheffield are battling a major computer worm outbreak after managers turned off Windows security updates for all 8,000 PCs on the vital network
2009-01-09 - The Telegraph - Data on more than 6,000 prisoners lost
Author: Tom Whitehead
Summary: Private data, including some medical data, has been lost for 6,360 prisoners from HMP Preston The information was encrypted but a password to get around the security was also attached to the device. It was lost by a member of staff Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust on December 30 2008, but only revealed today.
2009-01-08 - Kable - Green light for Welsh health records
Summary: Wales' health minister Edwina Hart has given the go ahead for the roll out of a national electronic patient record system. The countrywide implementation of the individual health record will follow the assessment that a pilot with a GPs' out of hours service and a medical admissions unit in Gwent has been successful.


2008-12-30 - The Guardian - Patients to rate and review their GPs on NHS website
Author: John Carvel
Summary: Ben Bradshaw, the health minister, wants to make it easy for patients in England to rate their family doctor's competence and bedside manner on bulletin boards on the NHS Choices website. Officials have been told to have the appropriate software ready next year. Bradshaw told the Guardian that he wants the site to do for healthcare what Amazon has done for the book trade and Trip Adviser for the travel industry: providing positive and negative feedback, warts and all, from consumers.
2008-12-30 - The Register - Health minister promises Rate-My-Doc! service
Author: John Oates
Summary: Ben Bradshaw, the UK health minister, wants the NHS Choices website to include a rate-your-doctor section where patients can mark their GP's skills, bedside manner and even post anonymous comments. ... Bradshaw seemed not to know of several websites which offer similar ratings and comments on GPs ... Confusingly Bradshaw also said the service would be moderated so as to not identify individual doctors or nurses which makes the whole thing even more pointless.
2008-12-26 - The Times - Patients avoid NHS database blunders by keeping cards close to their chest
Author: David Rose
Summary: Patients with complex conditions are now able to carry full details of their medical histories, including information that could their save lives, on a credit-card-sized smart card. Doctors say that people who are worried about the security of their medical records are choosing to carry sensitive details of medication, allergies and previous illness in their wallet rather than let the Government put them on the web. Ministers plan to create a national database to store electronic medical records for 50 million people in England, but, according to the makers of the card, recent data losses by Whitehall departments and fears over confidentiality of the system are leading patients to buy the £40 Health eCard as an alternative. A total of 21 GP surgeries and 300 patients, mainly in London and the South East, are already using it.
2008-12-18 - ZDNet - MP admits core NHS IT system has just 24 users
Summary: Health minister Ben Bradshaw has acknowledged that, so far, just 24 people are using one of the core systems in the NHS National Programme for IT. Bradshaw said that the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust is making "limited clinical usage in a single ward, with 10 system users", of the Lorenzo patient-administration system. At South Birmingham Primary Care Trust, the system is restricted to 14 users in the podiatry team.
2008-12-12 - Kable - CfH claims NPfIT still on track
Summary: Connecting for Health has played down comments by NHS chief executive David Nicholson that the National Programme for IT may need a major rethink. CfH, the agency responsible for the programme, said it was confident that serious problems with the implementation of clinical records systems would be resolved, and that it was not prepared to speculate about possible scenarios if they are not.
2008-12-12 - Finacial Times - Health records scheme at 'pivotal' point
Author: Nicholas Timmins
Summary: The NHS's multi-billion programme to create an electronic health record has reached a "pivotal position" where it will require a big rethink if more progress is not made soon, David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, said on Thursday. The programme is running at least four years late. New installations in London are on hold, no roll-out of the programme has yet been agreed for the north of England and the Department of Health is still deciding how to replace Fujitsu, the contractor for the south whom the NHS fired in May. Mr Nicholson told the Commons health committee he remained "confident" that the NHS would have a workable system by 2015. But in a first public admission that a rethink might be required, he told MPs: "We do have to think about how we take it forward. We can't go on and on for this." While parts of the programme had gone well, he said, there were "some really difficult issues to tackle" around installation of the clinical record.
2008-12-01 - The Register - London hospitals back online after PC virus infection
Author: John Leyden
Summary: Two week clean-up job nears completion. Computer systems at three London hospitals are almost back to normal two weeks after a computer virus forced staff to shut down its network. ...
2008-11-28 - Liberal Democrates - NHS data loss utterly shocking
Summary: Research by the Liberal Democrats has uncovered a catalogue of errors by the NHS regarding the protection of confidential patient information. Reported cases involved the loss or theft of diaries, briefcases, CDs, laptops, memory sticks, and even vehicles containing patient records.Private patient notes were left in public places, deserted buildings, and dumped in bins and skips. The incidents, contained in responses to a Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats involved: * Patent record loss so serious that 25 patients were visited by the Police and NHS management * The theft of an entire GP practice system * Confidential patient information being posted to the wrong people. Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb has written to the Health Secretary Alan Johnson urging him to accept five clear priorities to stem the loss of confidential data. Commenting, Norman Lamb said: "Patients have a right to expect their personal information will be treated with the utmost care." "We already know from the Information Commissioner that the NHS is among the worst offenders for data loss, reporting as many incidents as the entire private sector." "There must be a fundamental re-examination of how the NHS deals with personal data. The NHS should regard lapses of standards of care as potential serious misconduct." . Norman Lamb's five priorities to stem the loss of confidential data are: 1. The Department of Health should publish minimum standards for the protection of data on mobile devices and ensure that all NHS staff are aware of their particular responsibilities. 2. As a general principle, patient records should not be stored on mobile devices and strict rules must apply to control the copying of data. Any exceptions must be authorised after a risk assessment and only where it is unavoidable for the completion of work duties and the provision of care. 3. All mobile data devices should be protected through appropriate security controls regardless of the sensitivity of the information held. This includes the use of authentication, encryption, and other technical separation controls as well as registration and allocation of devices to an ‘owner'. 4. Lapses in standards of care should be regarded as potential serious misconduct. 5. The Government should formally abandon its plans for a national patient database.
2008-11-26 - The Times - NHS lost patient details 135 times in two years
Author: Kaya Burgess
Summary: A "fundamental re-examination" of how the NHS deals with personal data was demanded last night after research showed that a series of losses and thefts had potentially exposed the private details of 10,000 patients around the country. A total of 135 cases were reported, including the loss or theft of diaries, briefcases, CDs, laptops, memory sticks and, in one case, a vehicle containing patient records
2008-11-17 - The Guardian - NHS medical research plan threatens patient privacy
Author: John Carvel
Summary: The privacy of millions of NHS patients will be critically undermined by a government plan to let medical researchers have access to personal files, the health information watchdog told the Guardian last night. They are consulting on a proposal that is buried in the small print of the NHS constitution that would permit researchers for the first time to write to patients who share a particular set of medical conditions to seek their participation in trials. It would result in patients receiving a letter from a stranger who knew their most intimate medical secret. The prime minister and Department of Health want to give Britain's research institutes an advantage against overseas competitors by opening up more than 50m records, to identify patients who might be willing to take part in trials of new drugs and treatments...
2008-11-14 - The Register - Capita gets £60m deal to merge NHS websites
Author: John Oates
Summary: Capita has launched the bundled-together NHS websites - NHS Direct and NHS Choices. ... Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: "This single site will make it easier for the public to find reliable health information quickly and will give relevant and accurate advice that will help them to make their own decisions and choices about their health and healthcare."
2008-10-29 - Kable - Patient records hit delays
Summary: The NHS has acknowledged further delays in introducing a system for the electronic storage and transmission of patients' records
2008-10-28 - The Telegraph - NHS e-records project has 'ground to a halt'
Author: Chris Irvine
Summary: Connecting for Health, originally launched 2002, has faced a series of problems including reports it is running four years late. Just one of the acute care hospitals due to install the system has done so - Royal Free NHS Trust in London - and that is experiencing difficulties getting it to operate properly.
2008-10-28 - The Register - NHS IT project pulled up by hiatus
Author: John Oates
Summary: The £12.7bn National Programme for IT which aims to transform health service technology and provide electronic records for all patients is not dead in the water and delays are inevitable in such a large project. The government was forced into declaring the project is not dead just having a liedown after a story on the frontpage of the FT today which declared the project had ground to a halt.
2008-10-28 - Conservatives Press Release - NHS IT programme grinds to a halt
Author: Stephen O'Brien MP
Summary: Stephen O'Brien has criticised the Government after reports claimed the NHS IT programme is grinding to halt. Stephen, the Shadow Minister for Health, said, "This hugely expensive programme is desperately behind schedule and suppliers are deserting it in droves. Frontline professionals are voting with their feet and insisting on local solutions." "After all that we've said and warned, can it be any surprise that the Government's failure and disappointment is as nothing compared to the lost opportunity for improving healthcare outcomes for patients?" "As the Government is not prepared to be accountable for this, Conservatives have secured the opportunity to undertake our own independent review which is now progressing with the rigour people would expect, given the amount of taxpayers' money at stake."
2008-10-27 - The Finacial Times - NHS records project grinds to halt
Author: Nicholas Timmins
Summary: Progress on the £12bn computer programme designed to give doctors instant access to patients' records across the country has virtually ground to a halt, raising questions about whether the world's biggest civil information technology project will ever be finished. Connecting for Health, the ambitious plan to give every patient a comprehensive electronic record, has faced a series of problems over its size and complexity since it was first launched in 2002. In May this year, the National Audit Office said the project was running at least four years late but still appeared "feasible". Since then, however, just one of the scores of acute care hospitals due to install the underlying administration system required in order for the patient record to work has done so. The hospital, Royal Free NHS Trust in London, continues to have difficulties getting it to operate properly
2008-09-30 - Kable - Tories would decentralise NHS IT
Summary: An incoming Conservative government would decentralise health service computing and extend competition between suppliers, according to a plan released at its party conference. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, says the party will replace "Labour's centrally determined and unresponsive national IT system".
2008-09-25 - Computer Weekly - Anger as NHS shares confidential health records with councils
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: An NHS patient has complained to the information commissioner after the health service placed her "private and confidential" health records on a database which could be accessed by staff at the local council. Elizbeth Dove said she learned that the NHS had shared her medical details with the council without her knowledge after she contacted her GP about suspected depression. The case highlights the widespread, but little known, practice of data sharing between the NHS and local councils through the local council social care systems.
2008-09-18 - Computing - NHS backtracks on e-records consent policy
Author: Janie Davies
Summary: Patients can now choose whether to allow NHS staff access to summary care records. The NHS has changed the consent model for accessing a database containing personal information, allowing patients more control over which details can be read by medical practitioners. Patients will now be asked for permission before their Summary Care Records (SCRs) are viewed by NHS staff, and information deemed particularly sensitive will be granted another layer of protection. Previously, patients had to contact their GP to opt out of the database if they did not want their records included. If they did not opt out, their information would go automatically onto the database.
2008-09-17 - Kable - LibDems call for halt to NPfIT
Summary: The Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb has called for an immediate end to further spending on the NHS National Programme for IT. He also pledged an independent inquiry into the £12.4bn project to computerise the health service, which he said had been "a shambles from the start". "We believe the gains possible from the use of IT would more likely be realised if the programme were decentralised and control given to local organisations who could instead work on improving connectivity between health and social care,"
2008-09-08 - Kable - NPfIT will pay contractors £1.1bn extra
Summary: BT will get another £380m for additional work under its deal to build NHS Connecting for Health's Spine, following contract reset negotiations. CfH will now pay BT £1bn, 61% more than the original £620m, to provide the national Spine for the National Programme for IT following a contract reset in February this year, according to a parliamentary written answer from health minister Ben Bradshaw.
2008-08-20 - NHS CFH Weekly Digest - Media reports concerning technical problems in London
Summary: There have been a number of further media reports concerning technical problems with IT systems in London. The new IT systems in the NHS are on course to deliver quicker, more efficient and convenient patient care. Patients can expect faster, safer diagnosis and treatment because vital information will be available wherever and whenever care is required. The NHS National Programme for IT is one of the largest IT change programmes in the world and it is inevitable that such transformation will present challenges. We are working with the NHS and our suppliers to ensure that systems are implemented as smoothly as possible. Teething problems are to be expected as staff get used to new ways of working, however it is clear that patients and clinicians are now beginning to see the potential benefits these systems bring to improve patient care.
2008-07-23 - ZDNet - Health trust ditches NHS e-record scheme
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: The Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust (RUH) has stopped the deployment of the Cerner Millennium electronic care-records system, part of the £12.7bn national NHS IT modernisation programme. The trust said it terminated the implementation because it had lost confidence in the delivery of the system following Fujitsu's exit as the provider delivering the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the south of England.
2008-07-17 - BBC - NHS trusts lose confidential data
Author: Brian Meechan
Summary: More than 150 incidents of data being lost at NHS trusts across Wales have put patient and staff details at risk. Among the examples over a three year period, patient details from an entire children's ward in Wrexham were found on a piece of paper in a puddle. In another revealed by BBC Wales after Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, a highly confidential child protection file was sent to the wrong address.
2008-06-28 - BBC - NHS IT mess hits cancer patients
Summary: Patients with suspected cancer have had urgent appointments postponed at a top London hospital because of problems with the new NHS computer system. It is one of a series of problems faced by Barts and The London NHS Trust since the IT system went live in April.
2008-06-25 - ZDNet - NHS misses data-encryption target
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: A number of NHS health trusts are expected to be months late in meeting a target to encrypt all data on non-secure machines. Many trusts will be unable to meet the local targets as set by strategic health authorities (SHAs) as they had been told not to begin the work until Connecting for Health (CfH), the body co-ordinating NHS IT, procured an encryption package, which did not take place until 20 March. The Department of Health (DoH) has confirmed that it would then take "at least six months" for each trust to complete the rollout of encryption.
2008-06-19 - The Guardian - Leaked report for NHS reveals full extent of Lorenzo slippage
Author: Simon Bowers
Summary: Lorenzo, the much-delayed software package earmarked for a central role in the NHS's £12.7bn IT overhaul, remains mired in development glitches and is still struggling to get out of the technical design phase, according to a confidential document seen by the Guardian. The document paints a very different picture to the one given earlier this week by the NHS chief executive, David Nicholson, and his interim head of IT, Gordon Hextall, when they appeared before parliament's public accounts committee. ... a confidential report, seen by the Guardian and Computer Weekly, makes clear delivery deadlines slipped several months ago - though the delays were not made public.
2008-06-18 - ZDNet - Fujitsu to return £67m to NHS
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: Fujitsu has until the end of June to pay back the £67m it owes the NHS following the collapse of its £896m contract to help revamp NHS IT
2008-06-17 - The Register - NHS chief explains NPfIT delays
Summary: The chief executive of the Nationa l Health Service has told MPs that complexity and customisation have been the main causes in delaying England's National Programme for IT. David Nicholson was speaking to Parliament's Public Accounts Committee at its hearings on the programme on 16 June 2008.Committee chair Edward Leigh MP highlighted the delays in key elements of the programme, notably the delivery of patient administration systems to hospitals and the development of the Care Record Summary, and asked why this had occurred.
2008-06-16 - Computing - NHS IT under investigation as MPs question bosses
Summary: The Connecting for Health project is supposed to link every hospital and GP in England, allowing universal NHS access to the records of 50 million patients. Roll-out of the new systems should have been completed two years ago, but just 34 of the 169 target hospitals have been upgraded so far. Even among those institutions that have installed the systems, 21 have been given earlier and now obsolete versions.
2008-06-11 - Kable - NPfIT standardisation failed, says NHS London CIO
Summary: London's programme for IT has succeeded by dumping the National Programme for IT's standardised model, according to the chief information officer for the capital's health service. "Without a doubt, we haven't delivered the systems envisaged in 2002," said Kevin Jarrold, chief information officer of NHS London, told the Smart Healthcare Expo in London on 10 June 2008.
2008-06-06 - The Register - Two top posts at NPfIT are still empty
Author: John Oates
Summary: The NHS's National Programme for IT is still looking for leaders following the departure of director general Richard Granger in January. In April, the NPfIT announced it would also lose its chief information officer Matthew Swindells, who was a temporary replacement for Granger. He will leave this month. Richard Jeavons, the man in charge of service delivery, has also left. Connecting for Health is now splitting the director general's job into two. So it is now looking for a "chief information officer for health" who will look at: "the big picture of delivering our overall IT vision". It is also looking for candidates for "director of IT programme and system delivery".
2008-05-29 - The Telegraph - National NHS database plans delayed again
Author: Rosa Prince
Summary: Plans for a national NHS database containing all patient records have been delayed again after one of the main contractors pulled out of the deal The Department for Heath confirmed that negotiations with the Japanese computer giant Fujitsu had broken down after an agreement could not be reached ahead of the first scheduled roll-out, in southern England. The £12.7 billion IT programme, which is already four years late, will create a single electronic records system for patients.
2008-05-29 - Conservative Press Release - Labour's NHS IT shambles
Author: Stephen O'Brien MP
Summary: Shadow Minister for Health, Stephen O'Brien, has attacked Labour after their plans to impose a centralised NHS IT system hit yet another setback. The NHS IT programme, which is already four years late, could experience further delays after a contract with Fujitsu, a key supplier, was terminated. £12.7 billion of taxpayers' money is now at risk. Stephen said, "Gordon Brown's relentless attempt to ram through a monolithic, top-down, centralised, one-size-fits-all NHS supercomputer system is crashing down around his ears." He accused Labour of turning a "deaf ear" to warnings about problems with the NHS IT programme. And he criticised them for deliberately trying to "spin their way out of the situation irrespective of the facts."
2008-05-15 - ZDNet - NHS stalls electronic record system rollout
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: The NHS has pledged to halt the further rollout of its electronic patient record system while it takes stock of criticisms in a report. A report evaluating the trial rollout of the Summary Care Record (SCR) system highlighted concerns that the system was clunky, interfaces poorly with other systems and was being foisted upon patients without their full knowledge.
2008-05-12 - Computer Weekly - The Sun reports on potential security flaw in NPfIT Choose and Book
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: The Sun has reported on a potential security breach with the "Choose and Book" system – part of the NPfIT - at a GP practice at Essex; and it has an editorial under the headline "Data Dunces". The editorial says: "There's nothing more private than your medical records. Yet it seems anyone can access the NHS computer database. The Government promised it couldn't happen. Yet a GP finds he can log in without security checks. Labour insist that the ID Cards database will be totally secure. But how can we believe them?"
2008-05-10 - The Sun - Crooks access NHS database
Author: Emma Morton and Andy Crick
Summary: The £12billion NHS computer system lay in tatters last night — as it emerged CROOKS may have accessed patient records. A security card flaw has left the system open to abuse for two years. Sensitive medical details, addresses and National Insurance numbers of every patient in the country could have been seen by ANYONE in a GP surgery or hospital without using the special swipe card. And the information could have been sold to ID theft gangs.
2008-03-14 - Kable - BT hires Patricia Hewitt as director
Summary: The former health secretary will join one of the main suppliers to the NHS National Programme for IT as a non-executive director later this month. As a politician, Hewitt has been closely involved with BT. The Leicester West MP was instrumental in the creation of Ofcom, the all-in-one regulator for telecoms and the media, while she was head of the DTI. Not only did she help establish the Ofcom constitution, but she also appointed its chair Lord Currie.
2008-03-03 - BBC - GP warning over database access
Summary: Ministers have been urged to tighten up access to the NHS database, amid concerns details are being seen by NHS staff without medical qualifications. News that healthcare assistants are getting access to patients' records "drives a coach and horses" through assurances on security, doctors say. The NHS says they have access only to basic details including allergies and medication, not full medical histories.
2008-02-29 - Kable - DoH IT projects overshoot budgets
Summary: Five of 15 IT projects run by the Department of Health and its agencies are costing £247,000 more than expected. Health minister Ben Bradshaw produced the figures in response to a written parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Vince Cable.
2008-02-29 - Computer Week - Patient database open to access by non-qualified NHS staff
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: A new national database of confidential patient records is being opened to access by NHS staff who need no professional qualifications - despite official assurances that records will only be accessed by specialists who are providing care or treatment. A document obtained by Computer Weekly under the Freedom of Information Act also provides evidence that NHS Connecting for Health - which runs part of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT] - has quietly decided to weaken assurances given to patients about the confidentiality of records. Doctors are angry because they say that patients were given an assurance that non-clinical staff would be unable to access the national summary care record database which is being trialled at NHS trusts in various parts of England.
2008-02-26 - Computing - NHS database must go ahead, say MPs
Summary: The chairman of the House of Commons Health Committee has brushed aside the confidentiality fears that have delayed the £12.5bn NHS summary care record database plan. Labour MP Kevin Barron attacked medical professionals for propagating " palpable nonsense" in suggesting the government will profit by selling the intended 60 million health records to pharmaceutical and insurance companies. He also accused the British Medical Association (BMA) of "scaremongering" with claims earlier this month that people were wrongly accessing records through the network. "My issue with some BMA members is that that is not a reason not to go ahead with using IT to bring health into the 21st century," he said in a Westminster Hall debate last week.
2008-02-20 - NO2ID - NO2ID calls on MPs to tackle hidden "SUS" database
Summary: With MPs due to debate Electronic Patient Records tomorrow [1], the privacy campaign NO2ID [2] says that they should be discussing how the relationship between doctor and patient is being subverted for management convenience and empire-building. The NHS database is not just used for patient care. The so-called Secondary Uses Service (SUS) does not provide a service to patients. It is a vast hidden system that distributes the most personal (and people think private) information to a horde of bureaucrats and other third parties. "Pseudonymised" patient information – and in some instances, identifiable patient information [3] – is trafficked for purposes including "clinical audit, performance improvement, research, clinical governance, planning, commissioning, public health and benchmarking" [4]. Via SUS, a wide range of non-clinical agencies, organisations and even private companies [5] have massively greater access to information on everyone than clinicians. Protection of confidentiality is utterly inadequate and it is unclear how, or even if, individuals can refuse consent for their most private details to be shared among thousands of bureaucrats. Phil Booth, NO2ID's national coordinator, said: "That medics have access to a summary on "the spine" is just an excuse. It is only rarely going to be useful. Meanwhile dozens of bureaucracies and even private companies will get to exploit your whole medical history without your consent." "The Secondary Uses Service turns doctor's work and patients' lives into fodder for the bureaucratic machine, and professional standards and human dignity are irrelevant."
2008-02-20 - Channel 4 News - NHS multimillion pound IT: the risks
Author: Julian Rush
Summary: It's costing millions but the new NHS computer system in London and southern England poses a risk to patients say some consultants. The new NHS IT system is causing serious concern among clinicians. Last summer, the then boss of the National Health Service IT system, Richard Granger, candidly admitted he was "ashamed" - saying some of the hospital software was "appalling". Seven months on, Channel 4 News has spoken to clinicians who are seriously concerned about the system... The pressure is now on Connecting for Health to show that IT in the NHS brings real benefits. But the opinions of some doctors who've experienced the systems are making that difficult. Chris Taylor added: "Given that the system has been in some form implemented in hospitals for over a year and that there have been entire consultant groups who have raised their concerns, almost protests, it is beyond comprehension that this system, in its current form, is now being implemented. It just really is beyond comprehension. I have no other word for that." The stakes, then, couldn't be higher for the future of the NHS IT programme. Because unless the problems with the new hospital system are resolved soon, the chance of realising genuine longer term benefits of IT in the NHS could be in jeopardy.
2008-02-15 - The Register - 5,000 NHS records vanish with latest lost laptop
Author: John Oates
Summary: A laptop containing medical records for more than 5,000 people has been lost by a hospital near Dudley. The latest data giveway occurred on 8 January. The laptop was taken from an outpatients department at Russells Hall Hospital.
2008-02-14 - BBC - Medical records laptop is stolen
Summary: A laptop containing the medical records with information on 5,123 patients has been stolen from a Black Country hospital.
2008-02-13 - The Times - New database increases power of surveillance over citizens
Author: Richard Ford
Summary: ... Two national databases are also underway: the NHS Care Records Service and the Children's Database. Connecting for Health will involve uploading medical records for more than 50 million patients on to an online database, allowing information to be shared among health care professionals. The NHS Care Records Service will contain a limited amount of essential information that can be combined with locally held care information. Patients will mostly be identified by summary care records containing only a few personal details. Their full medical history will only be available to doctors involved in their treatment using chip-and-PIN cards, which require a six-digit code to access some parts of the system.
2008-02-07 - ZDNet - NHS admits losing thousands of smartcards
Author: Tim Ferguson
Summary: More than 4,000 NHS smartcards used to access a range of electronic systems and applications have gone missing since they were introduced two and a half years ago. A freedom of information request by GP magazine Pulse found a total of 4,147 smartcards have been lost, 142 of which have been stolen. Of the 221 NHS bodies that replied to the freedom of information request, one in 10 said they had no idea how many cards had been lost or stolen.
2008-02-01 - eGov monitor - Doctors have no confidence in NHS database, says BMA News poll
Summary: Nine out of ten doctors have no confidence in the government's ability to safeguard patient data online, a poll conducted by BMA News has revealed. More than 90 per cent of respondents (93 per cent) to the survey said they were not confident patient data on the proposed NHS centralised database would be secure.
2008-01-28 - The British Journal of General Practice - Patient confidentiality and central databases
Author: Ross Anderson
Summary: Encourages GPs to make clear to patients that it's OK to opt out - that they won't incur the practice's disapproval. - 2008 may be the year when GPs find themselves in the firing line over

confidentiality, as ever more patients try to opt out of 'the NHS database' and the Government tries ever more desperately to keep the project on track. But I believe this should not be seen as a problem, but an opportunity - a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a decisive change. GPs, by acting as the patient's advocate, can not merely retain patients' trust and defend their professional autonomy, but also rescue health policy from a serious wrong turn.

2008-01-28 - Pendel Today - Warning to NHS chiefs after further data breaches
Summary: NHS get warning after more patient data goes missing, including data on 1.7 million patients, hard drives dumped in skip, disc lost, information left in pub, laptop stolen from locked room and and doctor's name linked to patients' details via 'google' search.
2008-01-18 - ZDNet - NHS loses patients' data on USB drive
Author: Nick Heath
Summary: NHS lose 4,000 medical and personal details on a USB drive Stockport Primary Care Trust (PCT) admitted it had not informed the thousands affected after it lost their names, dates of birth and details of medical conditions in December. The details, which also included NHS numbers and details of GPs, was on a USB drive that was dropped by an employee.
2008-01-03 - E-Health Insider - Four-fifths of doctors say electronic record insecure
Author: Joe Fernandez
Summary: Four-fifths of doctors are concerned that current plans for patients' health records to be available from a central database – the summary care record - will make them insecure, according to a survey for the Times. Asked what level of confidence they had that central health records will be secure, 80% of GP respondents said they not confident or they were very worried. In addition, 77% of consultant respondents also gave the same answers. Over half (57%) of respondents said that they felt that local NHS organisations will not be able to maintain the privacy of patient data within their area.


2007-12-31 - The Daily Mail - Revolt as 200,000 people demand to opt out of new NHS database scheme
Author: James Chapman
Summary: Intimate details of the first 100,000 patients have been uploaded to the controversial new NHS database despite a mounting revolt by doctors and campaign groups. ... There is growing concern about the security of the £12bn IT programme - the biggest civilian computer project in the world - which will ultimately contain the details of 50 million people.
2007-12-31 - BBC - NHS e-records programme launched
Author: Emma Wilkinson
Summary: The first patients' electronic records have been uploaded to the new NHS online database. Around 20 GP surgeries in Bolton and Bury have added 110,000 patients' details to the system, part of the £12bn NHS IT upgrade project. The e-records will eventually be available to NHS staff nationwide and contain details on medical conditions, current medication and allergies. In September, MPs criticised the slow progress of the e-records project. The health committee also raised concerns about security of the database.
2007-12-24 - The Financial Times - Concern over data handling grows in UK
Author: Jimmy Burns
Summary: The Department of Health confirmed that nine National Health Service trusts in England and Wales had admitted losing patients' records. The loss, thought to involve data on hundreds of thousands of adults and -children, emerged as part of a government-wide data security review following security breaches in other departments. ... Andrew Lansley, the opposition home affairs spokesman, said the latest loss underlined the case against the government developing centralised data bases. It also raised serious questions over how the planned electronic patients database in the NHS would be able to protect sensitive medical records, he said. "For over two years we have argued for data to be held locally, with networking rather than one central database. The government should accept that this would offer us greater protection," Mr Lansley said.
2007-12-24 - The Guardian - Primarolo admits ignorance over data losses by nine NHS trusts
Author: Patrick Wintour
Summary: The health minister, Dawn Primarolo does not know exactly what is has been lost by nine NHS trusts. Ministers will be worried that the loss will further undermine confidence in the department's plans for a new computer database of all NHS patients' records. ... The data losses appear to have emerged locally, with potentially the biggest loss by City and Hackney Primary Care Trust in London, which has reportedly mislaid the details of 160,000 children after a computer disc failed to arrive at its destination at St Leonard's hospital. ... The campaign group NO2ID, which opposes ID cards and moves to centralise all NHS records, said: "We are now starting to see the consequences of the government obsession with information 'sharing' and centralised IT in the NHS. If you care about your privacy, then keep your medical records between you and your doctor, and out of the hands of the Department of Health, if you can."
2007-12-23 - The Sunday Mirror - 9 trusts lose files
Author: Vincent Moss and Justin Penrose
Summary: Hundreds of thousands of Health Service patients' details have gone missing in a new data scandal. Sensitive details about adults and children were lost in 10 incidents at NINE separate NHS Trusts. Health Secretary Alan Johnson's department last night confirmed details - kept on computer discs or memory sticks - had gone missing. But the Department of Health refused to reveal how many patients were involved or the exact nature of the blunders. Cases include the loss of a CD holding 160,000 children's names and addresses by a Trust in East London and the loss of 244 cancer patients' details by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells health trust in Kent. In one case, in Norfolk and Norwich, medical papers on patients with lung, breast and colon cancer were dumped in a wheelie bin. ... THE TRUSTS: Bolton Royal Hospital, Sutton and Merton, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (two incidents), Sefton Merseyside, City and Hackney, Mid Essex, East and North Herts, Norfolk and Norwich, Gloucester Partnership Foundation Trust
2007-12-04 - Pulse - A spine waiting to snap
Author: Phil Peverley
Summary: Despite the loss of the disks by HMRC the government is continuing with its plans to upload the medical records of the entire population to another national database. What's it for? What's the point? And just who, in their right mind, would consent to their private medical records being logged on to a system to which tens of thousands of incompetent New Labour work-experience buffoons theoretically could have access? Not one of the patients I have discussed it with, that's for certain. My personal medical records will not be joining this ludicrous Keystone Cops experiment. Neither will those of any of my patients. It is simply not possible that our government can give us any sort of guarantee that some berk in Birmingham will not download the lot and send it to his DVD rental club by accident
2007-11-26 - ZDNet - NPfIT: Doctors losing heart
Summary: Doctors' support for the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is waning and they are becoming increasingly critical of the five-year-old scheme, according to a report by research company Medix. Whereas Medix research in early 2004 showed that 56 percent of GPs and 75 percent of other doctors were enthusiastic about NPfIT, the latest findings show this has dropped to 23 percent of GPs and 35 percent of other doctors.
2007-11-23 - Kable - Doctors' support for NPfIT falls
Summary: The latest Medix survey shows that doctors' support for NPfIT is falling, despite a general enthusiasm for new IT. Doctors' support for the NHS national IT programme (NPfIT) is waning and they are becoming increasingly critical of the five-year-old scheme, according to a report by research company Medix. Whereas Medix research in early 2004 showed that 56% of GPs and 75% of other doctors were enthusiastic about NPfIT, the latest findings show this has dropped to 23% of GPs and 35% of other doctors. ... Only 8% of the more than 1,000 doctors who responded said that information about NPfIT received from the Department of Health is reliable and accurate.
2007-11-22 - Kable - NHS in talks with IT suppliers
Summary: The three main suppliers to the health service's IT programme are in confidential discussions about contracts "resets" Connecting for Health, the agency responsible for delivering the NHS's £12.4bn IT programme in England, is making changes to contracts agreed with its three main suppliers.
2007-11-21 - BBC - NHS database 'could be targeted'
Summary:The man in charge of setting up the NHS medical records database has admitted that "you cannot stop the wicked doing wicked things" with information. Richard Jeavons, director of IT implementation at the Department of Health, said there were instances where staff "abuse their privileges". These had to be "pursued", he told the Commons home affairs committee. The plan to put 50 million patients' records on the database is part of a £12bn NHS IT overhaul. The scheme has raised concerns over cost and the security of information. A poll for the Guardian suggests that 59% of GPs in England are unwilling to upload any record onto the database without the patient's specific consent. Three quarters of more than 1,000 doctors questioned believed medical details would become less secure when they are put on a database that will eventually be used by the NHS and social services. ... Government chief information officer John Suffolk told the MPs "If we can avoid setting up large-scale citizens' databases, that would be a wise thing to do."
2007-11-20 - The Register - Most doctors plan to dodge health database
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: The majority of family doctors have said they will shun a government plan to stuff a database full of all our medical records. According to a poll conducted by the Guardian, 59 per cent of GPs said they would not put records on the so-called spine without the consent of a patient, and fully three-quarters say records will be less secure once they are made available to NHS and social service staff on the central database. ... The newspaper reports that one of the doctors polled said: "Patients' confidential records will undoubtedly be at risk in the brave new world... I look forward to the innermost secrets of our politicians, actors and personalities being revealed to all and sundry." Another told the researchers: "Our current record confidentiality has been breached by a local primary care trust manager and we only found out by accident. I cannot trust the security of a national scheme."
2007-11-20 - The Guardian - Family doctors to shun national database of patients' records
Author: John Carvel
Summary: Nearly two-thirds of family doctors are poised to boycott the government's scheme to put the medical records of 50 million NHS patients on a national electronic database, a Guardian poll reveals today. With suspicion rife across the profession that sensitive personal data could be stolen by hackers and blackmailers, the poll found 59% of GPs in England are unwilling to upload any record without the patient's specific consent.
2007-11-14 - Pulse - Social workers to access new child health record
Author: Nigel Praities
Summary: A new comprehensive electronic health record is planned for all children, to be accessible by GPs, nurses and even social workers. But the ambitious Connecting for Health proposals have prompted concerns among some doctors at the prospect of broadening access to sensitive information about young people.
2007-11-13 - Kable - DoH accepts MPs' words on e-records
Summary: Among the other recommendations accepted by the department are that: * it should let patients know as clearly and quickly as possible that explicit consent is required for organisations to share their detailed care records (DCRs); * the summary care record (SCR) should have a standardised front screen; * only patients should have the right to break the "sealed envelope" of confidential records; * there should be an independent evaluation of the planned security system for national applications; * there should be custodial sentences for unlawful access to patients' personal information. ... it has turned down the MPs' recommendation that the Secondary Use Service, which makes anonymised data available for research, should not have access to data from "sealed envelopes". It also turned down recommendations that access to the SCR should be through the new health insurance card, and that implementation of shared records should be devolved to primary care trusts.
2007-11-12 - Pulse - NHS Care Record data safety fears grow
Author: Steve Nowottny
Summary: Staff from across the NHS are accessing sensitive patient-identifiable data through the controversial Secondary Uses Service. New guidance from Connecting for Health reveals three users in every organisation within the NHS have been given access to patient-identifiable information contained within Commissioning Data Sets and Payment by Results data. The guidance admits "this appears to be in total contradiction to the purpose of SUS", which was supposed to protect patient data through pseudonymisation. "Limitations of the current business function codes for SUS mean that it is not possible to restrict access to patient identifiable data other than through restricting the number of users," it states, adding that large-scale pseudonymisation would be rolled out "in coming releases".
2007-10-31 - Computer Weekly - NPfIT went ahead after Prime Minister had 10-minute briefing
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: Some in the IT industry may be surprised that the government made a provisional decision to invest billions of pounds in a technology-based programme on an apparently whimsical basis… If news leaked out that a fledging democracy had launched a technology project of enormous cost, size and importance on the basis of the informal style of decision-making that is parodied by the 10-minute presentation to the Prime Minister, its ruling party would, perhaps, be deeply embarrassed. Not the British government.
2007-10-25 - BBC News - NHS IT time-frame 'ludicrously tight'
Author: Erika Wright
Summary: The NHS National Programme for IT is the largest non-military project in the world and aims to revolutionise healthcare. But the budget for the massive project was never properly explained and it was given a "ludicrously tight" time-frame a new BBC Radio 4 investigation reveals. ... The director of the project, Richard Granger, resigned in June this year. ... In April 2006 Martyn Thomas was one of 23 computer science academics who wrote an open letter to the government, expressing concerns about the project and calling for an independent review. Professor Thomas has his own views on how big IT projects tend to go wrong. "Politicians like to do big things whereas introducing new computer systems is best done in the small. Deadlines are then set which are typically political deadlines." "Things have got to be in place for example before the next election - rather than having the timescales worked out for the project on the basis of proper engineering analysis."
2007-09-24 - E-Health Insider - Uncertainty over legality of NHS Care Records Service
Summary: Health minister Ben Bradshaw MP has refused to release information on the legality of the NHS Care Records Service (NCRS) and played down suggestions the NHS database will breach European law. Bradshaw was responding to Jeremy Wright MP who had contacted the health minister on behalf of one of his constituents Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Warwickshire who is campaigning against the consent model for the NCRS.
2007-09-21 - Pulse - EU law could scupper Care Record
Summary: Health minister Ben Bradshaw MP has admitted the rollout of the NHS Care Record could be banned under European law. ... writing to Conservative MP for Rugby and Kenilworth, Jeremy Wright, Mr Bradshaw said the Department of Health still disputed Professor Korff's claim, although he refused to reveal details of the Govern-ment's legal advice.
2007-09-19 - The Guardian - Concern over NHS's IT systems after 50 view celebrity's details
Author: John Carvel
Summary: The case of a celebrity whose medical records were illicitly viewed by more than 50 members of an NHS hospital's staff raised doubts yesterday about the security of the government's £12.4bn scheme to upgrade the NHS's IT systems. The prying was revealed in board papers for North Tees primary care trust as a warning to managers to tighten procedures requiring doctors and nurses to log on individually before being allowed access to sensitive personal material.
2007-09-13 - House of Commons Health Committee - The Electronic Patient Record
Summary: Concludes that the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is failing to meet its stated core objective - of providing clinically rich, interoperable detailed care records. And that patient privacy's is at serious risk.
2007-09-13 - Kable - MPs criticise e-health record progress
Summary: The electronic patient record project needs better planning, more consultation and a new timetable, say MPs
2007-09-12 - BBC News - Fears over NHS e-records system
Summary: A key plank of the £6.8bn NHS IT upgrade project in England has come under attack from MPs. The Health Committee said there was a "worrying lack of progress" and raised concerns about the security of patients' electronic records.
2007-09-05 - Kable - BMA call to halt e-record roll out
Summary: An open letter to government from the doctor's association wants a halt to the roll out of summary care records until a review has taken place. The British Medical Association's (BMA) chair, Dr Hamish Meldrum, has called for a halt to further implementation of the NHS summary care record, beyond six early adopter sites, until an independent review has been completed. In a letter to Ben Bradshaw MP, the minister responsible for the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), Dr Meldrum says that at a recent BMA meeting, doctors from primary and secondary care expressed their frustration with the programme and want a public enquiry to address problems.
2007-08-21 - Computer Weekly - What's in the Downing Street papers on the NHS IT programme?
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: A separate posting on this blog refers to a decision of the Information Commissioner to order the release of "sensitive" papers from a meeting at Downing Street in 2002 at which the NHS's National Programme for IT was given tentative approval. The meeting was chaired by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and attended by several ministers, civil servants and business consultants. Computer Weekly requested the Downing Street papers in January 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act. The Cabinet Offfice, on behalf of Downing Street, rejected our request. We appealed to the Information Commissioner who has now ruled that the papers should be published. Today, 21 August 2007, we asked the Cabinet Office if it would appeal to the Information Tribunal against the decision of the Information Commissioner. It has until 10 September 2007 to submit a formal notice of an appeal. Its spokesman said only: "We are still studying the decision." He would not say whether the Cabinet Office will appeal. We would be surprised if it didn't. So what are Whitehall, Downing Street and the Cabinet Office hiding?
2007-08-18 - BBC - E-care records safety fear raised
Summary: More proof is needed that electronic personal health records are safe and effective, some doctors have said. Ministers are pushing ahead with plans to put personal medical records on a national electronic database, which patients can themselves access online. But Dr Claudia Pagliari, from Edinburgh University, and colleagues told the British Medical Journal that challenges still existed over the security.
2007-07-31 - Kable - Nurses show doubts about EPR
Summary: Nurses have strong reservations about the benefits of electronic patient records, a survey for the Royal College of Nursing has found. Although the survey, carried out by Medix, found that two thirds of nurses welcome the introduction of electronic patient records (EPRs), fewer than one in two felt they would improve patient safety. Almost a third of those surveyed were uncertain as to whether EPRs would be more secure than the existing paper based system. The survey also found that two thirds of respondents have yet to be consulted about EPRs, while just one in 10 had been consulted "quite a lot" or "to a great deal".
2007-07-23 - Kable - GP2GP nationwide roll out begins
Summary: NHS Connecting for Health has announced that the national implementation of the service for sharing electronic patient records has begun. GP2GP has been developed to allow patient electronic health records (EHRs) to be transferred directly and securely between GP practices. The roll out, announced on 23 July 2007, will initially comprise GP practices with the clinical systems EMIS LV 5.2 and INPS Vision 3, with other suppliers joining at a later date. A spokesperson for Connecting for Health (CfH) told GC News that the two systems constituted about 65% of the total number of GP surgeries.
2007-07-16 - Computer Weekly - Loss of 1.3 million sensitive medical files in the US - possible implications for the NHS's National Programme for IT
Summary: The disappearance of one external hard drive — the sort one can buy in PC World for about £100 — contained 1.3 million sensitive medical records. In England a loss on this scale could not happen with a breach of security at a GP practice. But the NPfIT's Care Records Service is due to store 50 million patient records.
2007-07-12 - Kable - New call for NPfIT review
Summary: The Liberal Democrat Party has repeated its call for a review of the NHS National Programme for IT. The party's shadow health secretary Norman Lamb used a recent interview with soon-to-be departing NHS IT chief Richard Granger in CIO UK magazine as ammunition to push for an independent inquiry. In the article, Granger admits: "Sometimes we put stuff in that I'm ashamed of," while labelling one contractor's equipment recently installed as "appalling". Granger is calling the contractor to account but Lamb, responding on 11 July 2007,said: "What is 'appalling' is that Richard Granger repeatedly defended the disaster prone NHS IT system when he was responsible for its delivery. Now that he has stepped down, he is more candid with the truth."
2007-07-03 - The Register - London NHS paper reveals plans to share patient data
Author: John Lettice
Summary: A document produced for London NHS reveals plans for extensive sharing of personal data between the NHS, social services, education and the police
2007-06-29 - E-Health-Insider - BMA votes for non co-operation on central records
Summary: Doctors have voted for a public inquiry into NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) and have called on the BMA to advise doctors not to co-operate with the centralised storage of medical records.
2007-06-21 - Computing - The NHS programme is like a Hummer, it will drive through anything
Author: Sarah Arnott
Summary: Granger has not been ashamed to get on with things and at no point has he tried to cover his arse, which is refreshing in the public sector. But we have to step back and do things the NHS way rather than dictating from the centre. That was a mistake from the beginning - A senior supplier .... The National Programme is like a Hummer: it is not subtle, it will drive through anything and will survive a few bomb blasts. But if you want to do anything with finesse, it is not the right vehicle. Now we need to change to something a bit more attractive, that people actually want to drive - A senior NHS source Granger did what he needed to do to please his political masters. He decided that his reputation and his relationship with the industry could be sacrificed to deliver what the political climate demanded - A senior industry source
2007-06-21 - Computing - NHS IT will never be the same again
Author: Sarah Arnott
Summary: No other public sector technology programme, however controversial, has generated quite the same furore as the £12bn National Programme for NHS IT (NPfIT). The project is held up as a paragon of tight contracting, technical vision and world-leading innovation. But it is also used as an exemplar of the worst excesses of disastrous government IT: autocratic, unworkable and a spectacular waste of money. Richard Granger's combative stewardship of the programme for the past five years has created almost as much controversy. And his departure in a few months, announced this week, will have a significant impact.
2007-06-18 - Kable - CSC consents to iSoft merger
Summary: Following weeks of wrangling, NPfIT local service provider CSC has agreed to the merger of software partner iSoft and the Australian firm IBA Health. Soft and CSC have been locked in discussions over the development of aspects of the Lorenzo software, currently being delivered to the NHS as part of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).
2007-06-14 - Computing - Bury patients join NHS records pilot
Author: Sarah Arnott and Lisa Kelly
Summary: Bury NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) is joining the pilot of the electronic care record system at the heart of the £12bn National Programme for NHS IT (NPfIT). The Lancashire trust's involvement comes at a time of continued controversy over the scheme. In a House of Commons debate last week, Stephen O'Brien MP called for an independent review. And NPfIT director general Richard Granger will be among witnesses at a health select committee hearing today (Thursday).
2007-06-05 - The Telegraph - Amateurs in charge of government business
Summary: The Government's chronic inability to manage costly IT schemes effectively is well documented - indeed, it has become one of New Labour's trademarks. This morning's report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee helps to explain why Whitehall gets it so wrong, so often. ... The committee highlights two specific areas of weakness in the management of complex IT programmes. ... The failure to do so has led to such well-documented disasters as the enormous cost and time overruns in the computerisation of NHS records and the multi-billion-pound fiasco of the introduction of tax credits.
2007-05-29 - Computing - CSC to block IBA Health iSoft bid
Author: Tom Young
Summary: Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) is to oppose the £132.3m offer IBA Health has made for NHS software supplier iSoft. The services giant has step-in rights over iSoft's development of its 'Lorenzo' hospital administration software for the £12bn National Programme for NHS IT, of which CSC is a major contractor. CSC is yet to provide reasons for its opposition to the deal.
2007-05-23 - The Guardian - Anger at plans for NHS database of gay men
Author: John Carvel
Summary: An NHS database holding intimate information about the sexual behaviour of thousands of gay men is being planned by health trusts as part of a drive to encourage safer sex, a charity disclosed today. The possibility that sensitive data could be accessed by computer hackers is causing anxiety across the gay community in London, where it will be launched later this year.
2007-05-17 - The Guardian - Hewitt admits defeat on doctors' job fiasco
Author: Graeme Wilson
Summary: Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, faced humiliation last night after being forced to jettison the controversial online job application system for junior doctors.
2007-04-27 - Kable - MPs warned about e-health records
Summary: The government has been accused of ignoring concerns about the privacy of the NHS e-care record. ... Andrew Hawker, an academic who has written about information systems and described himself as "an NHS patient", warned that the implementation of e-care records should be deferred until core IT systems are fully installed and it has been "thoroughly tested for privacy".
2007-04-27 - The ARCH Blog - Wasted opportunities
Summary: The Department of Health has apologised after a security lapse on the junior doctors recruitment website enabled confidential information on thousands of applicants, including their sexual orientation and previous convictions, to be accessed by the public yesterday ... As Mr Eugenides says: "Remember that these people want to record your personal details on a massive database. Not someone else's: yours." "Do you trust them to do so? And if so, why?" That's not quite accurate. They're going to record details on two massive databases. Don't forget the junior NIR, formerly known as the Information Sharing Index, now re-branded 'ContactPoint'.
2007-04-27 - The Guardian - Junior doctors' personal details made public in website blunder
Author: Lee Glendinning
Summary: The Department of Health has apologised after a security lapse on the junior doctors recruitment website enabled confidential information on thousands of applicants, including their sexual orientation and previous convictions, to be accessed by the public yesterday.
2007-03-15 - BBC - Home access to NHS records plan
Summary: Patients are set to be able to look at their medical records on their home computer, it has been announced. The plan was set out by Connecting For Health, which is overseeing the introduction of the new NHS IT system - The Spine - which will cover England.
2007-03-15 - The Guardian - First test launched of NHS's controversial 'Spine' database
Author: John Carvel
Summary: The government's plan to put the medical records of every NHS patient in England on a central electronic database will begin first trials tomorrow at two carefully selected GP practices in the north-west. ... Three types of patient opt-out to be offered
2007-02-22 - BBC News - Hospitals pick hi-tech clipboard
Summary: Hospitals are to introduce and electronic clipboard - known as a mobile clinical assistant (MCA) - in the hope of cutting the time doctors and nurses spend on paper work. Onboard it has a scanner that can read RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that allows nurses to log on to the wireless system securely and quickly. It also has a barcode reader built in so it can read drug labels and patient wristbands and a digital camera to take pictures of wounds.
2007-02-20 - ZDNet - Doctors give NHS IT a cautious welcome
Summary: Two-thirds of UK doctors are confident that the National Programme for IT will make a positive change to the NHS, a survey has found. However, only 7 percent think the massive NHS IT overhaul should receive any further funding to ensure its success.
2007-02-13 - The Register - Fujitsu man condemns NPfIT as failure
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: The government's pet technology project, the multi-billion pound NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT), is in danger of failing, lacks the leadership required to stop it drifting off course, and is in danger of morphing into "a camel", according to a senior figure in one of the main contractors implementing the project.
2007-02-13 - Times - £6.2bn IT scheme for NHS 'is not working and is not going to work'
Author: David Rose
Summary: The care of patients on the NHS risks being compromised by the Government's flawed implementation of a multi-billion-pound computer system linking doctors and hospitals, according to one of the project's senior executives. A lack of vision and poor understanding of the sheer size of the task meant that the IT overhaul "isn't working and isn't going to work", Andrew Rollerson, an executive with Fujitsu, one of the system's providers, said.
2007-02-11 - Blogzilla - NHS security constantly subverted
Author: Ian Brown
Summary: We have been told over and over again by the NHS that the highest security standards will be applied to centralised medical record databases, and that only authorised staff will have access to patient data. We have numerous practical examples showing this is pure fantasy. List with details...
2007-02-07 - OUT-LAW.COM - NHS asks Lords to clarify freedom of information and data protection clash
Summary: The House of Lords will clarify how data protection and freedom of information laws should work together if it hears an NHS appeal against an order to release clinical data. Any ruling would be a defining one for the two emerging areas of law.
2007-02-02 - ZDNet - NHS denies privacy risk over smartcard sharing
Author: David Meyer
Summary: NHS Connecting for Health has admitted that smartcards were shared between staff at a Warwickshire hospital, but denied that this compromised the confidentiality of patient data. ... On Thursday Connecting for Health (CfH), the NHS department administering the IT overhaul (the National Programme for IT, or NPfIT), issued a statement claiming that there was "no question of the confidentiality of patient data having been compromised" at the Trust, as the staff authorised by the board to share smartcards "were all clinical staff, bound by their professional codes of confidentiality, operating in a secure non-public part of the hospital". ... Previous statements from CfH had suggested that the sharing of smartcards would be treated as misconduct, requiring disciplinary procedures. However, Thursday's statement conceded that "responsibility for the security of patient information ultimately lies with individual Trusts, hospitals and NHS organisations".
2007-01-30 - Computer Weekly - NHS security dilemma as smartcards shared
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: An NHS trust board has approved the sharing of smartcards, in breach of security policy under the £12.4bn NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT), because slow log-in times would restrict the time of doctors treating emergency patients. ... Paul Cundy, spokesman for the British Medical Association's GP IT subcommittee, said the actions of the trust "drive a coach and horses through the so-called privacy in the new systems". He said, "This is precisely what we have long predicted and shows that security systems, although highly specified on paper, need to be tested against live environments before they can be said to be secure."
2007-01-29 - Metro - Security fear for patients' records
Summary: NHS staff are being permitted to breach security on the Government's patient records system, it was claimed today. Workers at one trust have been told they can share their shift leader's 'smartcard' which allows them to view individual patient records
2007-01-26 - OUT-LAW.COM - Patients can boycott NHS system, says Commissioner
Summary: The Information Commissioner has been told that patients will have the opportunity to refuse to have their details uploaded onto the new NHS medical records system. The news comes just weeks after the Department of Health refused patients that right.
2007-01-26 - ZDNet - Anger over EC medical data-sharing scheme
Author: David Meyer
Summary: The European Commission is about to call for proposals on how patients' medical details would be shared between its member states, with the UK almost certain to be included in the scheme. ... "If you're somebody with information that should be known, at present you will carry either a bracelet or a card in your wallet to say so," Anderson told ZDNet UK on Thursday. "It is foolish to move to a computer for the simple reason that, if you have the information either on an online database or sitting on a smartcard, then the computer could be down. Human-readable information which you can carry is the most appropriate technology."
2007-01-23 - The Register - Academics compile 'encyclopaedia of concerns' about NPfIT
Summary: A group of academics have issued a "dossier of concerns" calling for a technical review of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Brian Randell, Emeritus professor of Computing Science at Newcastle University, told GC News that the 200 page dossier containing "everything said about the NPfIT over the last few years" will help Parliament's Health Select Committee with its pending inquiry.


2006-12-22 - out-law.com - BMA may seek NHS records system boycott
Summary: Doctors will be advised to refuse to use the NHS's computer system unless the Department of Health (DoH) changes its mind on behaviour which the British Medical Association says is unlawful.
2006-12-21 - ComputerActive - Opt out of NHS computer records
Author: Dinah Greek
Summary: Information about how people may be able to have a say in whether their medical records are added to the central database and what information those records will contain.
2006-12-19 - The Times - Patients can keep their details secret after computer U-turn
Author: David Rose
Summary: The Government has agreed to let patients keep details of their medical records private after they are uploaded electronically on to a new NHS database. In a policy U-turn, Lord Warner, a health minister, said that he had accepted the recommendations of a task force on the electronic patient records system. The Government is to stick to its plan that patients will have to opt out of the NHS Care Records Service — but there will now be the chance for patients to view their record and amend details online before information is uploaded for sharing. They will also be able to consent to how their information is shared with professionals across the NHS in England.
2006-12-04 - The Guardian - Health officials reject requests to opt out of patient database
Author: John Carvel
Summary: The Guardian's response to the government's response to letters sent to the DoH by Guardian readers expressing their concerns about the proposed database.
2006-11-05 - The Times - Help! They know all about me
Author: John-Paul Flintoff
Summary: Some of the things that we consider most deeply private are contained in our medical records: a history of depression, a sexually transmitted disease, a long-ago abortion, recovery from drug addiction or a suicide attempt. The National Health Service has embarked on a £12 billion IT project that will upload millions of patients' medical records onto a database, freely accessed by 250,000 NHS staff and, to a lesser degree, by private health companies, council workers, commercial researchers and ambulance staff. It might as well be public. Thomas has already encountered cases of private investigators, aided by insiders, raiding government and company databases such as the police national computer and the DVLA's vehicle computer, as well as those at the Department for Work and Pensions. Doctors fear that when the openness of the database is understood, patients may stop telling GPs their secrets. The health department is unbothered: “The citizen has no right to stipulate what will and will not be recorded . . . nor where those records will be held.”
2006-11-01 - The Guardian - Warning over privacy of 50m patient files
Author: David Leigh & Rob Evans
Summary: NHS England seems intent on adding the medical records of all patients to its new central database without allowing people a say in whether their own records are included or what information may be shared.
2006-07-11 - Computer Weekly - NHS trust uncovers password sharing risk to patient data
Author: Tony Collins
Summary: A report recognises that a culture of sharing codes which give access to medical systems and records is widespread across the NHS and that this poses a threat to the confidentiality of medical records which are due to be uploaded to a central patient database.

External Links

Official NHS Sites