By Laura Passi
Exclusive: Celebrities, politicians and other patients whose information is regarded as sensitive will be exempted from the automatic creation of a Summary Care Record, under latest guidance from Connecting for Health.
Public figures and other vulnerable patients will be able to request that a sensitive flag is added to their patient record on the personal demographics service, the national electronic database of NHS patient demographic details, without having to cite a reason, removing them from the care record system altogether.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘This will ensure that their address is not available to anyone with access to the service. As the care record also contains details of location and the patient’s general practice, any patient with a flag will not have a record created.’
GPs will also be able to arrange for patients to be marked as sensitive. But GP experts said the move posed further questions about the security of the database.
Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Yateley, Hampshire, said: ‘The personal demographics service is like a gigantic telephone directory, widely accessible and minimally policed. Access is based on trust that NHS workers will not abuse it. Inappropriate access is very difficult to detect. There is undoubtedly a market out there for the type of information it contains.’
Over 2,000 people already have a sensitive flag on their record. Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Kingsbury, Warwickshire, said: ‘The need for politicians and celebrities to opt out of the care record demonstrates that it remains the chocolate firewall of NHS IT.’
Celebrities excluded from care record