/ BLOG / NHS Spine

Ben Laurie has a good post on the privacy issues with the “new” NHS Spine system, and picks out the flaws with the advice and rollout. I don’t think I would’ve been able to make the point any better to be honest, so its best just to read what he’s said.

Unfortunately, I’ve got conflicting feelings when it comes down to Spine. As much as I’ve ranted on in the past about my general privacy concerns, I can see the point of Spine. If I opted out, or at least attempted, how would it affect any future treatment I had on the NHS? As time progresses the system will likely become reliant on Spine. What if I was away from home and I fell ill? What if it was out of hours? All these questions can become key as the database becomes the primary source of data and people are relegated. Having experienced a number of times in my life how availability of information can be critical to patients, and their well being, I find myself struggling to even attempt to opt-out.

My other concern, not only with Spine, but all the databases which the UK government seems to be pushing, is that its never been particularly clear to the public what is going on. If you ask the average person on the street, they won’t know much about the ID system, or Spine, etc. Is this the fault of the government? The fault of the media? Or the fault of the average person on the street not caring? And why is it so hard, and frowned upon, to opt out?

When people ask me in the street for signing up to charities, or to answer questionnaires and I refuse on the grounds of the fact I have no way to prove who they are, I get very funny looks. To a generation where 12 pence Biros can be given in exchange for workplace logon details, National Insurance numbers, even bank account numbers, on a Paddington Train station platform, privacy clearly isn’t the concern it should. Are we really afraid that much?