The Tories are facing court over their NHS ‘data grab’

Matt Hancock looking angry over the NHS data grab court action
Support us and go ad-free

A group has launched a legal challenge to the Tory government’s so-called “NHS data grab“. It comes as the medical records of the entire population of England are set to go on a central database in a matter of weeks. And as The Canary previously reported, the Tories are looking to sell your data to the highest bidder. But you, and the legal challenge, could stop them.

Flogging our medical records, Tory-style

As we previously wrote, the Tories flogging off our medical data isn’t new. Previously, a single government body was doing it, and the government claimed that it was all legal. It also said that people’s info was anonymous, but some campaign groups disagreed. The latest scandal broke when Byline Times revealed that the government is once again looking to sell our medical records.

Phil Booth wrote for Byline Times that:

from 1 July, NHS Digital has announced that “data may be shared from the GP medical records about… any living patient registered at a GP practice in England when the collection started”.

NHS Digital… will be able to take the following from GPs’ records: “Data about diagnoses, symptoms, observations, test results, medications, allergies, immunisations, referrals, recalls and appointments, including information about physical, mental and sexual health.” This will also include data about “staff who have treated patients”, and data “on sex, ethnicity and sexual orientation”, as well as other sensitive data.

Enter Big Pharma

NHS Digital states that some organisations may “need access” to your data. It says “these include but may not be limited to” several government bodies, including Public Health England. But crucially, NHS Digital also says it can give access to your data to:

research organisations, including universities, charities, clinical research organisations that run clinical trials and pharmaceutical companies

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The public has until 23 June to opt out. You can find out how to do that here. And now, a group of organisations is taking action.

A legal challenge?

A coalition of five groups and an MP have begun legal proceedings against the government. They are:

  • Just Treatment.
  • Doctors’ Association UK.
  • The Citizens.
  • openDemocracy.
  • The National Pensioners Convention.
  • David Davis MP.

The coalition says that:

we have less than three weeks to keep our medical data safe.

Foxglove Solicitors is acting on its behalf. The coalition doesn’t seem confident that the government will drop the 23 June opt-out deadline. So, it’s started legal proceedings.

‘Unlawful’?

As it wrote:

On 3 June Just Treatment, Doctors’ Association UK, the Citizens, openDemocracy, the National Pensioners Convention and David Davis MP sent a legal letter (a letter before claim) to the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS Digital. The legal letter says that rushing such a major change through with no transparency or debate violates patient trust, and doing so without seeking patient consent is unlawful. The case asks for a halt to the GP data grab with an injunction, and to rethink and seek meaningful patient consent.

But the coalition needs funding for the case and is looking to raise £40k to cover legal costs. You can view and donate to its crowdfunder here. As it said:

Our legal team work on ‘conditional fee agreements’. That means they only recover their costs from the other side if we win. But if we lose in court, we could have to pay the other side’s costs. The claimants in this are asking the court for a “Cost Capping Order”. If the court grants that it means that there would be a limit on the amount the coalition can be forced to pay in the event it loses. To make this case possible we need to raise as much as possible.

The coalition has also started a petition which you can read and sign here.

Fighting for all of us

The Citizens has created a video explainer of the situation:

The legal case is crucial. Many people won’t be aware of the Tories’ NHS data grab, and therefore won’t know that they can opt out. By stopping this in its tracks, the coalition will be winning for every person in the UK – except the Tories, of course.

Featured image via Sky News – YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us