Even as plans for the new NHS data-sharing scheme are being put on hold following concerns about patient privacy, a major insurance society in Britain claimed that hospital records of all the NHS patients have been sold to insurance companies who then used it to set the policy prices.
The Staple Inn Actuarial Society revealed that it has accessed over 47 million patient records from the NHS over a 13-year period between 1997 and 2000 and the records were used by the group to recommend an increase in the prices of the insurance policies for thousands of customers last year. T
he group revealed that it combined the medical records of the patients with credit rating companies and recommended rise in policy prices of thousands of patients, majority of whom were over 50 years of age.
Privacy campaign groups have slammed the news stating that it makes a mockery of the assurance that patients' privacy is being protected. "The language in the document is extraordinary; this isn't about patients, this is about exploiting a market. Of course any commercial organization will focus on making a profit - the question is why is the NHS prepared to hand this data over? We have been categorically told that it would be illegal for GP data to be handed over to insurers, yet already all this hospital data has been extracted. It blows out of the water the idea that patients' privacy is being protected", medConfidential's Phil Booth said.