Keep our NHS public Keep Our NHS Public (@keepnhspublic) / Twitter

It is all starting to make sense.  For a long time I resisted calls to ‘keep the NHS public’, as since moving away from London I have benefited hugely from a local NHS tie-up with the private Reading Circle hospital. 
Any time I go there for an NHS appointment I am treated exactly as if I were a private patient.  The standard of Consultants and treatment is superb, parking is free and their cafe has lovely food!  
But, the picture in London where I used to live, was very different.  I experienced NHS treatment in private centres that were incompetent, in dirty venues, with obvious cost-cutting measures rife. Once I was subjected to 24 X-rays of my spine instead of an MRI Scan, which turned out to be totally useless and a proper MRI had to be organised in an NHS hospital.  So it seems an NHS/private partnership works in some areas, but not others. 
But I am now realising that any partnership has other consequences. e.g. using our personal information for profit. now it seems that 
Data Protection Act
We all must be used to the way this subject seems to crop up everywhere. But does anyone else get the idea that our personal information is not being used as we would wish? 
I volunteered when the Macmillan cancer charity asked if I would like to help set up the framework for better cancer services in London.  First, they signed me up for a course, run by a private company to teach us what Data Protection was all about.
However, when I was asked to join for a third training day, all on data protection, I protested.
The training took place at the swanky ETC. Conference Centre, with superb lunches, and I was horrified to see some filling bags with the food on offer.  
Volunteering to help set up better cancer SERVICES for London, our brief was to consider what SERVICES were needed.  We weren’t to be concerned with actual patients – so no need to familiarise ourselves with GDPR – and certainly not for three whole – expensive – day courses! But no, I couldn’t opt out (but I did enjoy ETC’s excellent lunches!)
Today, it sets my teeth on edge when I phone the NHS with a simple query, and have to go through a long rigmarole “for data protection”, even if I only want to know how to reach a venue!  
According to research by the Financial Times (FT), the NHS holds 55 million of our medical records, with an estimated market value of untold billions to companies such as pharma, ‘credit score gurus. market research firms,  insurance companies. etc  (I do wonder whenever I get phoned up with “I hear you have been involved in an accident……..”).
The FT says there is little control over what happens to this; but when checking in at hospital Reception. I am asked for my Date of Birth, I remember what an Inspector in the Fraud Squad at Scotland Yard told me.  Apparently, we don’t have to give our D.O.B., we can offer any number of other means of checking: such as our address, etc.  Or they could ask for our name, as they do at The Circle, Reading.

Anyone wanting to sell on our data knows that a Date of Birth is the most valuable bit of our personal info for any marketing company. –  but once this data is handed on, there is little control over what happens to it.

More digital shenanigans

Instead of an easy-to-read letter or email report after a hospital appointment. I am getting annoyed the way we now have to open attachments when we received a Doctor’s e-mail follow-up letter.  The other day my computer was playing up, and I couldn’t open an attachment with the results of important tests. So I phoned my Consultant’s Secretary, who was no help at all. Data Protection meant “it’s more than my life is worth” to read out”what she had just typed or email to me as text.  I had to wait for the Post to deliver this urgent information by snail mail!

Keep Our NHS Public

has just sent out the following information on the

Health Data Working Group, saying


“One of the top priorities of both the government and NHS England is digital transformation of the NHS, and health data. Who can access and process health data is core to this.

We fully recognise that health data offer huge potential for improving health and health care for us all. We are however concerned about increasing evidence that, in the interests of economic growth and the pursuit of new trade deals with a strong focus on digital trade, the ‘government-private sector complex’ is pushing for unprecedented access to personal health data.”:

So, before you hand out your Date of Birth, just think what is going to happen to this very personal piece of information about you.  

This extract from the website of Keep our NHS public might give some food for thought: –

  • patient data held by the Department of Health and Social Care have been sold or otherwise made accessible to giant pharmaceutical and technology companies
  • during the pandemic, emergency powers have allowed the private sector increased access to patient data
  • initiatives such as and ‘GPdataGrab’ have attempted to trawl patients’ GP records without their explicit consent and without making it clear that patients had a right to ‘opt out’.

Now there are signs that government is intent on further increasing commercial access and reducing existing safeguards, for instance by weakening legislation such as the Data Protection Act (2018).

Ever since the Care data fiasco (when the Govt. tried to get GPs to hand over our data, and fudged the fact that we could choose to opt out) I have insisted I sign in with my address etc. and not D.O.B.  Mind you, don’t know if this is working very effectively: I reckon the scammers still have my number – I had three scam calls this morning!