“The Home Office is displaying a blatant disregard for the trusted and vital GP-patient relationship, and its casual approach to confidential patient data risks alienating highly vulnerable patients… …It is treating GP patient data like the Yellow Pages, and we are calling on NHS Digital to take urgent measures to suspend the agreement that is allowing them to do so… …The scale of the examples we’re hearing about are becoming increasingly alarming – and if all are true, paint a terrible picture”
“The BMA has been vocal in its opposition to this data sharing arrangement between NHS Digital, the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care, which risks undermining the very foundation of the doctor-patient relationship… …We therefore welcome this report, which echoes many of our key concerns over the ill-thought out and potentially destructive agreement that NHS Digital is yet to resolve… …As stated by the committee, most immigration offences clearly do not meet the high public interest threshold for releasing confidential data, which according to NHS England, the GMC and even NHS Digital’s own guidance, should be reserved for cases which involve ‘serious’ crime… …Doctors were being asked to “effectively act as an enforcer for the Home Office… …If the bond of trust between doctor and patient is broken, it risks not only the health of that individual, but can also have serious public health implications if people suffering from infectious conditions avoid seeking medical treatment… …use of the data sets a dangerous precedent that opens up the possibility of patients’ data being passed on not just in immigration cases, but for other non-health-related purposes”
“We will consider the Health Select Committee’s report carefully and will take into account any new evidence as it becomes available, but we have been through a rigorous process to assess the release of demographic data to the Home Office… …This has established that there is a legal basis for the release and has assured us that it is in the public interest to share limited demographic data in very specific circumstances.”
It’s horrific to see new private only pay clinics springing up in areas of the UK where poverty is the highest and it’s because immigration offenders have realised that the supposedly ‘confidential’ NHS GP and Hospital records relating to them and their families are being used to shop them to the Home Office.
Of course there are a million other more effective ways to trace immigrants (they are mostly young and have mobile phones that are accurately identifiable by location or they are being homed/employed by citizens who have mobiles and all of this monitoring can be easily done by the Home Office) so I think it’s clear the NHS is doing this because it thinks they’ve concluded that there is a short term economic benefit.
It should be clear that it is vastly cheaper to give every immigration offender free NHS care than it is to try and care for them when they get really sick and turn up with a false identity in a hospital. By sharing details (that include Patients’ names, date of birth, address) the NHS is driving growth in criminal gangs who are stealing citizens identities and this is putting Patients (and the Professionals trying to care for them) at much greater risk of making very expensive mistakes (treating a Patient based on completely inaccurate information in their NHS Record).
No individual Doctor is going to speak out, refuse or complain against the Home Office because they will probably just turn their investigation to the ‘non-compliant’ Doctor so please support the British Medical Association and Royal College of GPs call for a suspension of a memorandum between the Home Office and NHS which has given them access to data that is undermining the ethical principles underpinning confidentiality and the determination to act in the best interests of Patients.