NHS Data sharing – it’s your call

file0001810786833 (653x800)Everyone in Suffolk should have received a leaflet through the post  (click here)  about how the government intends to share your personal health data with a variety of ‘approved’ (but unspecified) organisations and ‘researchers’. The leaflet came without an envelope and  will probably  have arrived with a lot of other leaflets  and many people may have thrown it away unread.

The leaflet tells you, “If you are happy for your information to be shared “ (or if you have thrown away the leaflet unread) “you do not need to do anything. There is no form to fill in and nothing to sign.”

In other words – you will automatically have opted into having your full medical information shared with whoever the government decides appropriate.

Or indeed, anyone who breaks into the HSCIC ‘secure’ system.

“The thing that worries me, is why is there no form to fill in and nothing to sign?  The government are leafleting every household in the country,and  the form could easily have contained a simple opt-in slip that you could fill in and take to your GP.  Almost everything in this country that’s not compulsory requires an opt in – from electoral registration, to becoming an organ donor. If the government wants to start a trend for opting-out rather than opting-in  why don’t we start with one or both of these?  ” asks Woodbridge County Councillor Caroline Page.

“The second problem I have is  can we be identified via this data?  The leaflet tells you that your name will not be linked to your data but the parent NHS website confirms that they are linking “your date of birth, full postcode, NHS number, and gender will be. That is enough to identify most people.

Theoretically NHS data sharing is a good idea. Nothing would please me – and people like me – more than if a responsible state used our medical data for responsible research to ameliorate our  current problems and make life better for the future. But until we can have better guarantees as to anonymity and security this initiative seems to be fatally flawed.

Personally, I’m happy to share my NHS data with my excellent GP practice, with hospitals and with various expert medical personnel.  But until we can have better guarantees as to anonymity and security  I will not be sharing my data with the state!”

A proposal – which will be discussed next month –  could additionally give access to our data to non-NHS bodies, including private firms. Make a positive decision as to whether you are opting in or out. Contact your GP surgery

Caroline Page

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Suffolk County Council Budget 2014

Suffolk County Council agreed its Budget at full council today. The LibDems had a free vote, but most – if not all – voted against the Administration’s proposals. As Leader, Dave Wood said:

bank-england_£Our group fully understands the financial needs of the County  – and the absolute requirement the Council has  to raise efficiency and to give good value for money. So of course, we fully support the proposed 0% increase in Council Tax.

However, we sincerely believe that the Pickles Bribe (eg central government’s council tax freeze deal) should actually be used, rather than placed in the reserves as seems to have become Tory practice. This money should be given back to the people of Suffolk – from whom it was extracted via their taxes – and used to support some of the services you are proposing to cut.

We are concerned – most particularly with Adult and Continuing Services – that apparent efficiencies are masking significant service resuctions. We have anecdotal evidence that this is the case.

It is a different case with Childrens and Young Peoples’ services. League tables show clearly that we are still performing badly, and yet we see substantial budget cuts. This just cannot be right. The  future of Suffolk depends on the aspirations of its young people.

We welcome the gains you propose to make from the moving of CSD  inhouse- but surely there has been a very hard lesson to be learned here.  This project has been very badly managed for years now. It is proof, if proof was needed that outsourcing services doesn’t always make savings and is not always best.. SO surely the savings made from this and the Energy from Waste project should be employed to rectify the problems I have quoted.

On a personal level I’m deeply disappointed that the Council has decided to cut their contribution to Suffolk’s magnificent AONBs  by 20%  – especially as it is on the back of them being forward-looking and restructuring I know it is only a small sumof money in the grand scheme of things – but what sort of message is it going to send out to our other contributing partners, considering AONBs  importance, and the contribution they make to the Suffolk economy? I wish that the reduction could have been phased in with a full consultation. As it is there  in black and white in today’s budget, I hope the Portfolio holder will reassure us that he will take no more from the AONBs for the duration of this administration.

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2014 – Happy New Year!

May the coming year bring you peace and prosperity.

The Suffolk Lib Dems are committed to working for Suffolk and representing  you, the people of Suffolk – today and every day. We’re looking forward to continuing the fight to make our lovely county a place that everyone can enjoy living in  – from Kersey to Kessingland , from Bury to Beccles (and everywhere else in the bargain!)

With your support,  we can make 2014 a year to remember!

 

Dave Wood, Liberal Democrat Group Leader,  County Councillor for Peninsula  and Lib Dem  Spokesperson for Public Protection and Environment

John Field, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader,  County Councillor for Gipping Valley and Lib Dem Spokesperson for Resource Management

 

Dave Busby County Councillor for Belstead Brook and Lib Dem Spokesperson for Finance and Property

Inga Lockington  County Councillor for St. Margarets and Westgate, Ipswich and Lib Dem Spokesperson for Health and Adult Care

Penny Otton  County Councillor for Thedwastre South and Lib Dem Spokesperson for Education, Skills, Young People and Localities

Caroline Page   County Councillor for Woodbridge and Lib Dem Spokesperson for Roads and Transport

Julia Truelove  County Councillor for Bosmere

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