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Very soon now, if you haven't done so already, you should be receiving a leaflet through your door, Better information means better care, about care.data, a new scheme by which information about you1 held by your doctor will be uploaded from surgeries to one central database. This isn't to help you if you are taken ill elsewhere, that's another database (the Summary Care Record), this is to provide researchers, drug companies, and insurance companies with a comprehensive database of the health of the nation.

There are safeguards in place but you may be concerned about having your personal data leaving the control of your GP in an identifiable form i.e. not anonymised, especially as it can then be passed on in that format. If you have then, contrary to what the leaflet implies, you don't need to make an appointment to see your GP in order to opt out, you can just send them a letter or use this form written by Neil Bhatia, GP who has concerns about care.data. His web site makes interesting reading and explains why he's concerned. You may find this article in The Guardian useful.

Finally remember that if you do nothing, i.e. you do not opt out, then your medical information will be extracted and uploaded. Once uploaded, you will not be able to get this data deleted. So if you want to opt out, you need to act now. If you are unsure what to do, then Dr Bhatia recommends that you opt out now. You can discuss this with your doctor at your next appointment and, if you are satisfied, you can opt back in at any point.

  1. NHS number, date of birth, postcode, gender and ethnicity, together with your medical diagnoses (including cancer and mental health), their complications, referrals to specialists, your prescriptions, your family history, details of your vaccinations and screening tests, your blood test results, your body mass index, and your smoking/alcohol habits.

Tags: health Written 21/01/14

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