Watchdog is snooping on ‘private’ medical data

Sophie Borland reports in the Daily Mail,that Health Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) making checks on GPs’ surgeries, are routinely looking through patient medical records without seeking the consent of patients.

The CQC claims it was granted legal powers to see the files without seeking consent under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said:

“The confidentiality of private medical information is the basis of the trust that patients put in their family doctors and it is vital that this is not compromised. If CQC inspectors want to have access to the private medical records of patients they need to put in place systems that obtain the explicit consent of patients.”

NHS England to forge ahead with ‘unchanged’ plans

Graeme Burton reports on the Computing website that the NHS is to go ahead with the medical records data upload which has been on hold for the past six months due to concerns from privacy campaigners and GPs.

NHS England is now planning pilot schemes in six areas across the country covering up to 265 surgeries and 1.7 million patients. The areas include Hampshire, Blackburn and Darwen in Lancashire, Leeds and Somerset, with the full scheme being rolled out shortly after.

However, campaigners remain concerned that the method of data anonymisation is not robust will not protect patients from identification.

Police Spy on Mail on Sunday Journalists Phone Records

The Mail on Sunday (MoS) reports about the Police using the Regulatory of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA) to secretly access MoS journalists phone records.

The records were accessed while they investigated claims from the disgraced former cabinet Minister Chris Huhne that the MoS was involved in a conspiracy against him.  Huhne was convicted of perverting the course of justice in a 2003 speeding case following a story in the MoS.

By accessing phone records, Police were able to identify the Journalist Andrew Alderson as the mail on Sunday’s source for the story, even though his identity was protected by the order of a Judge.  The identity of the source, along with details of phone calls between him and MoS News Editor David Dilllon, were then passed onto Chris Huhne’s defence lawyers by prosecutors as part of the process of  legal disclosure.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee responding to the revelations said:

‘It is deeply disturbing that the police have hacked into offices of a major UK newspaper. They have struck a serious blow against press freedom.’

Note: there is another recent Newsblog article about the Police secretly accessing the phone records of the Sun Political editor using RIPA.

Theresa May vows Tory government would introduce ‘snooper’s charter’

Alan Travis reports in the Guardian that Theresa May the Home Secretary has vowed that a future Conservative government will introduce into law the Communications Data Bill, which is often referred to as the Snooper’s Charter.

May criticised the Liberal Democrats for blocking the Communications Data Bill two years ago claiming that:

“If we do not act, we risk sleepwalking into a society in which crime can no longer [be] investigated and terrorists can plot their murderous schemes undisrupted.”

However, the Liberal Democrats rejected May’s claim that their opposition to the “Snooper’s Charter” was putting lives at risk, pointing out that the police can already access communications data when needed.