By Lucette Davies

Last Thursday, our campaign was in town warning the public that big US tech companies may soon have access to their medical records.

We have the right to opt out and stop them accessing our own records but many people don’t know this. Follow this link to find out how. This Government, has quietly created a data store called NHS Digital. They have also signed contracts with Google, Amazon, Alphabet and Palantir. Matt Hancock has instructed all GPs to transfer patient records to NHS digital unless the patient has opted out.

Although many people told us, quite rightly, that our records have already fallen into the wrong hands this goes much further.

NHS Digital is intended to be a place where all health and social care data is stored. Never before has so much personal and confidential information been stored in one place. We don’t know if this information will be held securely enough. But more importantly this data will be worth £10bn/ year to the people who have access to it.

Caroline Ansell has repeatedly told our campaign that the NHS will not be sold off. But we know that there are many aspects to the NHS and our medical records are just one. They could be a public asset which would allow lives to be saved. But this Government has sold access to the data to corporations who we can’t even trust to pay the correct amount of taxes.

This Government has displayed a blinkered determination to increase the profits of large corporations particularly over recent years. Our NHS has been moulded to mirror the appalling US healthcare system. Shamefully Mat Hancock declared; “Their will be no privatisation of the NHS under my watch.” But our NHS has been broken up into many pieces. Piece by piece it is being handed to the private sector. It has become inefficient, and vast amounts are spent on the process of putting services out to tender and awarding contracts. The people are suffering and dying but profit is all this Government sees. The handling of this pandemic has been atrocious. Like many other policies this creation of NHS Digital started as an emergency response to the pandemic. It was hardly noticed and secretly it transformed into a permanent arrangement. We only learnt about it from watching the People’s Covid Inquiry. You can watch all the sessions on their website and we strongly recommend you do.

Every £1 that is invested in the health of the nation grows the wealth of the nation by £2-4. Conversely allowing big Tech firms to sell of confidential information will destroy the public’s trust in the NHS. Persuading people to wear masks, take a vaccine or anything else requires the trust of people. We are urging people to opt out but also write to their GPs asking them to let all their patients know what is happening. Too much is at stake for us to allow any further Americanisation of our NHS. Please sign the petition against this horrific abuse of our data protection rights. You also only have until 23rd June to opt out. We have now heard that legal action has placed a pause on Palantir’s role in this until a public debate has happened.