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Concerns about privacy and the security of government data handling have prompted Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff to ask his doctor not to transfer his medical notes to a central computer database accessible to health service workers around the country.

He said,

"I've done this not because I have anything to hide, but on principle. I think the collection of so much sensitive information in one place is plain daft and open to massive abuse. It is a fundamental attack on our right to privacy."

The national database, nicknamed the "Spine", is currently being trialled, with a view to making it mandatory throughout England. Unless individuals specifically opt-out of the scheme, the Government will assume consent has been given.

In the letter to his doctor, Peter wrote:

"This 12bn IT programme will be the biggest civilian computer project in the world, ultimately containing the details of 50 million people. I believe this to be a colossal waste of money - money which could be much better spent in the cash-strapped NHS.

"Additionally, in light of the seemingly endless list of data losses by the Government in the last three months I have grave reservations about how medical records will be kept confidential. Indeed, as I'm sure you are aware, at the Annual Representatives Meeting in 2007 it was resolved that “BMA members should not cooperate with the proposed centralised storage of all medical records due to concerns about security and confidentiality.

"Therefore, I would be grateful if you could ensure that none of my records are entered onto a national database."

Commenting Peter said:

"This Government's obsession with hoarding personal data is remarkable. If they aren't trying to stick our fingerprints and iris scans onto microchips in the name of national security, they want to have all our medical details at their fingertips. I'm not saying that for a relatively small number of people this huge system might not bring some benefits - but I am saying the money could be so much better spent.

"Just as importantly, given this Government's track-record with handling personal data there is huge potential for this scheme to turn into a nightmare. Who exactly will have access to our medical details? The potential for abuse is enormous. Therefore, I have voluntarily removed myself from this scheme, and would urge others to do the same.

"I also intend to apply for a new passport at such a time as to ensure that I am not forced to acquire an identity card for as long as possible - another expensive scheme that will infringe our freedom, bring little or no benefit and the money for which could have been so much better spent making us genuinely secure."


Details of how to opt out of the NHS Summary Care Record can be found by visiting www.thebigoptout.org .

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