January 26th, 2008


Beware of the leopard

Not a very original title but it fits. My local NHS Trust has written to me about the new NHS Care Records Service . Lucky me, my GP practice is ‘one of the first to be involved’. (I wonder how much it’s getting paid?) The question is whether I want my personal medical records to be available on a nationwide computer system and if not, what I can do about it?

According to the information given, ‘The NHS Care Records Service will use the strongest national and international security measures’. There has already been one massive NHS computer cock up which cost billions. Then there’s the lost social security data, lost learner driver data, lost MOD data. Plus the fact that national newspapers use moles and bent coppers to extract information from the social security database (see Nick Davies’ forthcoming book Flat Earth News). Still feeling happy about this improvement in patient care? You can see your own records at any time on a website called HealthSpace. In order to do this you must register online and then take the completed form with proofs of identity to one of the drop-in sessions with NHS advisers. These are daytime only sessions in the local community centre and there is no appointment system. Not so convenient for anyone working.

Under the new measures, consent is presumed unless you take active steps to opt out. All you have to do is tell your GP that you are not happy with the new system and be condemned as an unhelpful patient whose care may suffer in the future. I can see the benefits for people with major health problems, but every civil liberties bone in my body is shrieking, No!
garden journal

Flower Watch

There are no birds in the garden so I am watching flowers instead. Much easier as they don't move about much. Here is what is flowering now.

Cyclamen coum
Lonicera fragrantissima
Mahonia japonica

Flower arrangers used to puzzle their brains over how to display hellebores indoors. They came up with all sorts of fiddly methods like dipping the ends of the stalks in boiling water (doesn't work). Nowadays most people float them in a shallow, preferably black bowl, like this.