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Patient records 'could be used for targeting terrorists' under Justice Bill

By Nigel Praities

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.

Experts fear the new law will mark a free-for-all over care record data in Government departments, with one even suggesting it could be used by the Home Office for counter-terrorism.

The warnings come a week after concerns over a controversial passage allowing researchers to access care record data led to it being quietly dropped from the NHS Constitution.

Professor Harry Cayton, chair of the National Information Governance Board for Health, said the proposed legislation ‘blows a big hole' in data protection legislation and could prove immensely damaging to patient trust in the NHS IT programme.

‘The summary care record is a central plank of success and to undermine confidence in this will mean we shoot ourselves in the foot,' he said.

Professor Cayton also revealed that he had even been asked by a Government source if data from the summary care record could be used to track down the pharmacy that a suspected terrorist with diabetes went to collect his/her medication.

‘This is entirely possible when we get the electronic care record going,' he said.

The bill had its second reading in the House of Commons last month and is currently in the committee stage of parliament. Notes accompanying the bill detail how it could be used to share patient care records.

‘The sharing of information enabled by the order must be for the purposes of a matter with which the department of the Minister is concerned.

‘For example if an order allowed NHS Trusts in England to share patient data for the purposes of medical research, the data-sharing exercise relates to health matters, and so the appropriate Minister would be the Secretary of State for Health,' the notes read.

Fears raised over police access to patient records Fears raised over police access to patient records

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