Hospital records used to 'target ads on Twitter and Facebook' say privacy campaigners, in latest NHS data concerns
Charlie Cooper is Health Correspondent for The Independent, i, and The Independent on Sunday, writing on the NHS, medical advances, and international health. Since joining the papers as an editorial assistant, he has been nominated for young journalist of the year at both the Press Awards and the British Journalism Awards.
Monday 03 March 2014
The security of NHS data was thrown into further doubt yesterday after it emerged anonymous patient information has been used by a marketing consultancy to advise clients on targeting their social media campaigns.
It comes amid growing concerns over plans to trawl patient records from every GP surgery in England, which were postponed last month after NHS chiefs admitted they had not done enough to inform and reassure the public about the scheme, known as care.data. MPs sought reassurances last week that the GP data, which could be accessed by researchers and approved private companies, would not be vulnerable to breaches of patient confidentiality.
In another blow to public confidence in the scheme, it was also reported yesterday that the entire hospital episodes statistics (HES) dataset has been uploaded to Google servers. A management consultancy firm called PA Consulting used Google tools to create interactive maps out of HES data, it emerged. The HSCIC said it had received assurances that no Google staff would be able to access the data, and the firm said that the data was “held securely”.
Medconfidential, which campaigns for better security around medical records, said that they were also concerned that HES data had been released, in pseudonymised form, to a consultancy firm, Beacon Dodsworth, which uses a coded version of HES data to help its clients “establish trends and understand patterns allowing you to tailor you social marketing or media awareness campaigns.” Its chairman, Geoff Beacon, told The Independent that the firm had “not been allowed near the raw data”, which had been handled by a public sector health observatory.
However, Phil Booth, from Medconfidential, said that their use of the data raised serious concerns that NHS records were being used for commercial purposes.
“47 million people don’t have a clue that their hospital history has been used to target ads on Twitter and Facebook,” he said.
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
iPhone 6s photos leak shows new phone will be thicker than iPhone 6, could make cases defunct
Women really are more attracted to men who make them laugh, study finds
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...