It’s entirely unsurprising that governments should seek to use the pandemic as cover for hoovering up data about its citizens. However, it’s up to us to resist this.
Plans to force the NHS to share confidential data with police forces across England are “very problematic” and could see patients giving false information to doctors, the government’s data watchdog has warned.
Dr Nicola Byrne also warned that emergency powers brought in to allow the sharing of data to help tackle the spread of Covid-19 could not run on indefinitely after they were extended to March 2022.
Dr Byrne, 46, who has had a 20-year career in mental health, also warned against the lack of regulation over the way companies were collecting, storing and sharing patient data via health apps.
She told The Independent she had raised concerns with the government over clauses in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is going through the House of Lords later this month.
The legislation could impose a duty on NHS bodies to disclose private patient data to police to prevent serious violence and crucially sets aside a duty of confidentiality on clinicians collecting information when providing care.
Dr Byrne said doing so could “erode trust and confidence, and deter people from sharing information and even from presenting for clinical care”.
She added that it was not clear what exact information would be covered by the bill: “The case isn’t made as to why that is necessary. These things need to be debated openly and in public.”