If you haven’t already done it, today’s Times has a reminder about opting out of having NHS records uploaded to the ‘spine’:
SENIOR doctors are encouraging a mass revolt against the government’s £12 billion national health database by supporting a campaign to urge patients to opt out.
Activists in the British Medical Association (BMA) have produced a pro forma letter that people can send to their GP to stop their records going onto the database.
Parents can opt out on behalf of children aged under 16. However, we have seen guidance from one Primary Care Trust that tells GPs to interview older children if parents should opt out on their behalf, and overrule the parents’ wishes if the child is assessed as ‘Frazer competent’ (sic).
The usual expression is ‘Gillick competent’ and it is used to describe a situation where a child requires medical treatment without the knowledge of his/her parents. In the House of Lords judgment in the case of Gillick, Lord Fraser (with an ‘s’) laid down strict guidelines around the circumstances in which a medical practitioner might obtain consent to treatment directly from a child.
These guidelines required a practitioner to attempt to persuade the child to involve his/her parents, and they also presupposed that the child would receive expert medical advice from the practitioner. We do not believe that a GP has such expertise in data protection and information security, nor do we believe that the ability to assess a child’s competence to consent to medical treatment equips a GP to assess his/her competence to consent to data storage and sharing.
Finally, Lord Fraser warned that the Gillick judgment should not be taken as a licence to disregard parents’ wishes whenever it was convenient to do so, and that any practitioner who behaved in such a fashion should be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
**If anyone opting out of the NHS spine on behalf of their child experiences problems, we should like to know about them. Please circulate this information as widely as possible.**