A GPs’ leader has accused the DWP of snooping on patients after the Pulse website revealed that the department is to force GPs to provide it with details of all the fit notes they issue, unless their patients opt out. Patients may also want to opt out of the even more worrying Care Data scheme which sells your identifiable health records to drug companies and others.
Beginning next month GPs will be forced to hand over details to the DWP of all the Med 3 ‘fit notes’ they issue including ‘the duration of the fit note, patient gender, type of health condition, their location and whether workplace adaptations were recommended.’
Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard told Pulse:
’I think that is state snooping. Although I am sure some civil servant thought it was a terrific idea somewhere, I am not entirely sure I agree. I don’t know if patients understand that when I write a fit note, some bureaucrat is going to be able to have a look at it.’
All surgeries should be displaying notices informing patients about the data collection by the DWP and their right to opt out.
At the same time as opting out of this scheme, claimants may want to consider opting out of the Care Data scheme which obliges GPs to pass on your personal medical data via Atos to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
HSCIC will then sell your data to drug companies and other interested parties. The data collected will include your date of birth, postcode, NHS number, gender, health conditions, referrals to specialists, smoking and drinking habits and your body mass index.
You can find out more about the Care Data scheme here and you will need to opt out by the end of February.
There are downloadable opt out forms halfway down this page.