The NHS is sharing patient’s personal information, including registered address and their GP’s contact details, ith the Home Office to trace immigration offenders and vulnerable people.
The Department of Health told Pulse that a ‘memorandum of understanding’ released this week formalises what information can be shared and under what circumstances.
The MoU highlights that no clinical information will be released, but NHS Digital will release personal details, including full name, date of birth and registration with the NHS, last known address, and GP contact details in certain circumstances..
The Home Office can ask for this information when it is seeking people with regards to immigration offences and they have failed to get in contact with immigration officials themselves.
A DH spokesperson clarified that tracing requests have happened previously, but NHS Digital has the right to reject requests that don’t follow correct procedure or are not in the public interest.
NHS Digital figures from August and November 2016 show 2,244 requests for information were made by the Home Office, and 69 were rejected. NHS Digital were able to trace the individual 75% of the time.
A Government spokesperson said: ’We share limited information between health agencies and the Home Office to trace immigration offenders and vulnerable people and prevent those without the right to access benefits and services doing so at the expense of the UK taxpayer.’
They added that requests to NHS Digital were only made after alternatives had been exhausted.