The Coalition has performed a disgraceful u-turn on the Summary Care Record

The Government has announced that it will continue building the Summary Care Record database of our medical data.

This contradicts the Conservative position outlined last year: 'A Conservative government would "dismantle" central NHS IT infrastructure, halt and renegotiate NPfIT local service provider contracts and introduce interoperable local systems.'

It also contradicts the Liberal Democrat position outlined this year, when Norman Lamb, then Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "The Government needs to end its obsession with massive central databases. The NHS IT scheme has been a disastrous waste of money and the national programme should be abandoned."

This is a disgraceful u-turn. The Coalition wants us to believe that they are serious about privacy and civil liberties – this is their first real test, and they have failed it.

The SCR is an unnecessary and intrusive piece of bureaucracy, as well as being wildly expensive. Doctors have managed without it until now. Our research has shown how vulnerable the NHS is to breaches of privacy – this will make things much worse.

Finally, I note that it was "announced" by brief Written Answer, without debate, on the day of the statement made to the House on the Cumbrian shooting, so it didn't get picked up anywhere. A Jo Moore 9/11 situation writ large, but after weeks in power rather than New Labour's years in office by the time of Moore's disgrace. New government, old tricks. No change, and no shame.

By Alex Deane

Posted by on Jun 4, 2010 in Databases | 19 Comments


  1. bucko
    4th June 2010

    They have also performed a disgraceful u-turn on not naming men accused of rape

  2. lisa
    5th June 2010

    Accusation does not equal guilt.

  3. Timbo
    5th June 2010

    This is just the same as the last discredited administration. Big announcement about the cancellation of ID cards (popular) but a u-turn on the equally as intrusive (of which most are unaware) summary care record, the announcement of which is camouflaged on a big story day.
    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  4. Chris C
    6th June 2010

    Absolutely staggering and wholly unacceptable. This project has been proven to be too expensive, constantly delayed and very risky in terms of people’s personal data.
    One of the main reasons I voted Conservative was the hope that a more rational approach would be taken to IT projects. Geeky I know, but I think its important. I even thought the coalition might make it even better, since the Lib Dems have a relatively good grasp of tech.
    I’m shocked and angered by this betrayal.

  5. ushuaia
    6th June 2010

    have just emailed my (Conservative) MP asking for an explanation of this farce – suggest other concerned people do the same and complain to all their LibDem and Conservative MPs, pointing out the U-turn.Even if this produces no tangible result at least it shows them that we are aware of this and angered by it.

  6. Very concerned
    7th June 2010

    This is wholly unacceptable. How many people realise that even if they opt out of this scheme the NHS will go ahead and create a SCR anyway – it may be blank but it will contain all your personal data (name, address, DOB, Dr etc). The IT argument is that they (the NHS) need to be able to find out who you are and who your doctor is if you are taken into hospital – hello, if a patient doesn’t want you to know then surely that it their choice? According to the ICO helpline the only option you have is via Section 10 of the Data Protection Act by which you can request that they don’t process your data because of the distress it would cause – having the NHS go ahead and create a SCR against my consent and wishes is very upsetting and distressful so I will pursue this.

    7th June 2010

    Is there some principled reasoning for the U turn or it is simply the manifestation of the old saying that it doesn’t matter which party is in office, the Civil Service are in power?

  8. Phil Ruse
    13th October 2010

    I share the distrust but the notion that doctors have managed without a database for now is presumably taken from someone who hasn’t had to shuttle back and forward between GP and consultant (for example).
    My mother (who use to be a nurse) was given potentially dangerous medication from her GP until she happened to remember a conversation with her consultant – needless to say the records had never reached her GP.
    Likewise my wife who has a long medical history is frequently frustrated that she has to wait a month after visiting her consultant before she can talk to her GP about any treatment, because that’s how long it will take for the records to be copied (multiple copies of eveything everywhere!) and mailed to the GP, assuming they aren’t lost…

  9. Phil Randome
    25th February 2011

    I used to live in France & there everybody keeps & takes responsibility for their own medical “classeur”. For a visit to the GP or hospital the file is brought along.
    French people never lose their files, simply because they are handled only by the individual or the doctor. No gigantic database costing billions of £’s which could’ve been spent on patients & no loss of privacy to the patient.
    I’ve lied to the GP surgery on what my address is, what my telephone number is & I’ve filled out a SCR pro forma to prevent the upload of my medical data but I’ve no trust in the govt., that this will be honoured. Only two years to go & I’ll be back in France.

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