UK allocates £10m to new ID scheme

Tom Espiner writes for ZDNet UK:

The UK government has announced funds to ‘lubricate’ its trusted identity scheme, in which citizens authenticate themselves across multiple public services.

The ‘Identity Assurance’ single sign-on scheme will get £10m over two years from the government’s £650m cybersecurity budget, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told a conference in central London on Monday.

“Last week I earmarked £10m from the cybersecurity programme to provide extra resources for this programme,” said Maude, adding that the Identity Assurance programme was different to the scrapped identity cards scheme.

“We think the government can be involved, must be involved, not as the big brother in this process, in the way that got associated with the identity cards agenda, but actually as a little brother, supporting, helping, providing some backup, and some lubrication from funding,” said Maude.

Why SCRs are a long-term plan for long-term conditions

Dick Vinegar writes on the Guardian web site:

Who would have thought it, the Department of Health is encouraging NHS organisations “to accelerate creation of summary care records (SCRs), with the aim of having them in place for most patients by 2013-14”. And 9m records have already been uploaded. This is a miracle.

At the general election 18 months ago, both Conservatives and LibDems were equating the SCR with the satanic identity card as a monstrous unmanageable database, and were vowing to abolish it. (And when they came to power as the coalition, they did abolish the identity card.) For some years before, Dr Ross Anderson of Cambridge University had been campaigning against the SCR on security grounds, and had won the ear of the British Medical Association. A bit later, Dr Trisha Greenhalgh wrote a magisterial academic report on the SCR’s shortcomings. With the government, academia and the BMA against it, the SCR was clearly doomed.

Yet, here we are, 18 months later, with government ministers saying how important the SCR is to patient care. And 70% of out of hours doctors say it enhances patient safety. What has happened to create this U-turn?

The cynics will say that the SCR project has cost so much that it has to be continued. Another version is that the nay-sayers have not come up with an alternative to the SCR – as nay-sayers habitually fail to do – and so ministers have decided to go with the devil that has already been paid for, rather than launch a whole new scheme from scratch.