health

The Tories have worked out how to pull off an NHS data grab: do it during a pandemic | Marina Hyde


Taking data from patients in England was so unpopular in 2014 it had to be shelved. Now it’s happening without the scrutiny

It feels so wrong starting an article with the words “you need to hear about this” when it doesn’t concern things Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to put up your vagina, or 20 of the world’s most important kitchen islands. Even so, would you … could you possibly consider listening to this?

Eight years ago the government had a plan so good it couldn’t tell you about it. It wanted to scrape everyone in England’s entire GP records and put them on one central database, where they would be anonymised – well, sort of! – then made available for research purposes to third parties, including private corporations. And called it Care.data, which is precisely the sort of name you’d give to either (a) a plan to grab everyone’s health data and let commercial firms like Google use it without their explicit consent, or (b) a desktop folder with pictures of everyone in your workplace using the second-floor toilets. But it’s OK, because you don’t show their heads. You set the camera up so it’s just neck-down.

Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist

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