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NHS IT systems 'break human rights and data protection laws'

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government's Secondary Uses Service (SUS) and Detailed Care Records are ‘almost certainly illegal' and should be scrapped for breaching human rights and data protection laws, according to a new report.

The study by the independent think tank the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, used a traffic light system to code the severity of human rights threats posed by various Government databases.

The Summary Care Record (SCR) and Choose & Book were reported as amber, claiming they have ‘significant problems' and ‘may be unlawful'.

The report, the most detailed study yet on data collection, said the SCR could potentially be marked as ‘red' if individuals aren't given a right to opt out.

It called on any incoming government to order an independent assessment of each system to identify and prioritise necessary changes.

In its conclusions on the SUS, it said: ‘The use of SUS in research without an effective opt-out contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights and European data-protection law. It is also considered morally unacceptable by millions of UK citizens.

‘For these reasons alone, and quite apart from any privacy concerns about the use of SUS data in administration, we have no choice but to assess this system as red.'

But a Department of Health spokesperson said the report was 'full of basic errors'.

She said: 'Neither patient consent nor confidentiality are being overridden. The aim of the National Programme for IT is to provide information to doctors and nurses which will save lives and improve the quality of care. Central to it is patient consent and the right of patients to opt out.

'The report's comments on the Secondary Uses Service are [also] ill informed and inaccurate. We recently consulted widely on this specifically to ensure that patient consent and confidentiality are protected and that the public is aware of uses that any data is put to.'

NHS IT systems break human rights and data protection laws and should be scrapped, says a new report

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