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Independents' Day

Saying no to = saying no to care?

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I’m starting to feel like I’m in a minority of one. But, to be brutally honest, I really don’t get this huge kerfuffle over I understand the concerns and I appreciate the issues, of course. But it barely registers on my agitometer – maybe because I just don’t regard myself as some precious, angelic winged guardian of patient records, which, in turn, could be because most of my patients have never appeared to give a monkeys.

After all, if confidentiality was something that keeps them up at night then they wouldn’t accost me when I’m in the checkout queue with my cheese sandwich to point out, with ill-disguised dissatisfaction, that their discharge is much the same. But they do, so it isn’t.

Having said that, those helpful leaflets which say, to paraphrase, ‘Look, if you don’t like it, just sod off and see your GP’ seem to be having an effect, although that’s the only message of any accuracy that seems to be getting through. Because the conversations I’ve had with anxious punters have centred on the misconception that dissent would disadvantage them in some way. In other words, that opting out of care data might mean opting out of care. Blimey. Incredible that patients could seriously entertain such an idea: fail to toe the DoH line and you forfeit the right to NHS treatment. Quite sad, when you come to think of it. Or, if you’re the government, quite interesting.

 Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.



Readers' comments (5)

  • The real issue is that patients have been asked t 'opt out' not 'opt in'!

    Medical records contain very sensitive information that we don't want to share with anyone else.

    The NHS are not best when it comes to patient confidentiality, and giving anyone my date of birth, NHS number and postcode is an invitation to rape my private life.

    I want to deicide who can access information about me, and what information other folk can access. ?This is not about what illness is prevalent in one area or another, it involves very personal information that I will over my dead body, never consent to share.

    The decent thing to have done would have been for NHS England to ask patients no dictate, but the damage is done and I feel NHS England is run by a load of wallies!

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  • Whatever the rights and wrongs of the problem for GPs is that if just one patient complains its the GP as data controller who will be fined.

    If your patients don't know it will be the GP who is legally responsible.

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  • Agree with the concern over care data. I think the Government and NHS do not understand what we do in primary care. I do look after chronic disease and illness , however a lot of my work is dealing with patients who might have issues in their private life. they might be alleging bullying at work by their line manager or CEO in a foundation hospital-and are off with stress -they may have had a termination of pregnancy recently without husband or partner knowing. Even elderly men and women have events in their lives which they have not shared with family etc.
    Letting ED departments know about allergies and drug history-particularity Warfarin might be very important-however patients feel that their family doctor is someone they can confide in. We must protect this-or change the face of general practice forever.

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  • Dr Copperfield, I am so pleased your are not my GP! I would be changing practices very rapidly if my GP referred to me as a punter or treated me with such disrespect!

    Whatever you want to believe, some of us do value confidentiality and do not want our data shared randomly, that is our right, but you appear to think because it doesn't matter to you, it shouldn't matter to us!

    Please don't treat us all as being stupid and show some respect for the patients that you supposed to care for!

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  • It is also saying no to an invasion of privacy!

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder