The government has announced that it will continue building the Summary Care Record database of our medical data.
The announcement contradicts the Tory position outlined last year: “A Conservative government would ‘dismantle’ central NHS IT infrastructure, halt and renegotiate NPfIT local service provider contracts and introduce interoperable local systems.”
It also contradicts the Liberal Democrat position outlined this year, when Norman Lamb, then Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: “The government needs to end its obsession with massive central databases. The NHS IT scheme has been a disastrous waste of money and the national programme should be abandoned.”
This is a disgraceful U-turn. The coalition wants us to believe that it is serious about privacy and civil liberties — this is its first test, and it has failed it.
The SCR is an unnecessary and intrusive piece of bureaucracy, as well as being wildly expensive. Doctors have managed without it until now. Our research has shown how vulnerable the NHS is to breaches of privacy. This will make things much worse.
Finally, I note that it was “announced” by brief written answer, without debate, on the day of the statement to the House on the Cumbrian shootings, so it didn’t get picked up anywhere. A Jo Moore 9/11 situation writ large, but after weeks in power rather than New Labour’s years in office by the time of Moore’s disgrace. New government, old tricks. No change, and no shame.
Alex Deane is director of Big Brother Watch, a barrister, and a former chief of staff to David Cameron.