A Sussex couple have expressed their ‘dismay’ that the medical records of every person in England will soon be shared to a central database.
The controversial scheme will see patients’ details shared to a single English database unless they opt out before March.
It has been designed to help hospitals quickly find information about patients from out of their area, though the scheme has been criticised because pharmaceutical and insurance companies will be able to buy some of the medical details.
“The first I knew about this was when I saw a notice up about it at my doctors and it totally shocked me,” said Dorothy Brain from Westergate, near Chichester.
“The notice said unless you opt out your details would be shared to a database and that there was no guarantee the information wouldn’t be passed on.
“It scared me and my husband to death. We don’t want our medical details given to insurance companies.
“I understand the idea of wanting hospitals to immediately be able to gather information about patients but why should that be shared with other companies?
“I read the papers and I’ve not seen anything about this at all. Bearing in mind that people will have their details shared unless they opt out it’s very worrying.”
Mrs Brain and her husband have already filled out a form to ‘opt out’ and handed it back to their surgery, the Croft Practice in Eastergate.
She says she is willing to risk delays in treatment if she is injured in another part of the country for the sake of keeping her details confidential.
Patients have until March to opt out of the system, called the Care.Date Programm.
It is aimed at providing ‘healthcare staff treating patients in an emergency or out-of-hours with faster access to key clinical information’ but will allow drug and insurance companies to buy ‘pseudonymised’ medical information about them.