Wearables: patients will ‘essentially manage their data as they wish’. What will this mean for diagnostics, treatment and research and why should we care? [#NHSWDP 3]

 

Consent to data sharing appears to be a new choice firmly available on the NHS England patient menu if patient ownership of our own records, is clearly acknowledged as ‘the operating principle legally’.

Simon Stevens, had just said in his keynote speech:

“..smartphones; […] the single most important health treatment and diagnostic tool at our disposal over the coming decade and beyond ” Simon Stevens, March 18 2015.

Tim Kelsey, Director Patients and Information, NHS England, then talked about consent in the Q&A:

“We now acknowledge the patient’s ownership of the record […] essentially, it’s always been implied, it’s still not absolutely explicit but it is the operating principle now legally for the NHS.

“So, let’s get back to consent and what it means for clinical professionals, because we are going to move to a place where people will make those decisions as they currently do with wearable devices, and other kinds of mobile, and we need to get to a point where people can plug their wearable device into their medical record, and essentially manage their data as they wish.

“It is essentially, their data.”

How this principle has been applied in the past, is being now, and how it may change matters, as it will affect many other areas.

Our personal health data is the business intelligence of the health industry’s future.

Some parts of that industry will say we don’t share enough data. Or don’t use it in the right way.  For wearables designed as medical devices, it will be vital to do so.

But before some launch into polemics on the rights and wrongs of blanket ‘data sharing’ we should be careful what types of data we mean, and for what purposes it is extracted.It matters when discussing consent and sharing.

We should be clear to separate consent to data sharing for direct treatment from consent for secondary purposes other than care (although Mr Kelsey hinted at a conflation of the two in a later comment). The promised opt-out from sharing for secondary uses is pending legal change. At least that’s what we’ve been told.

Given that patient data from hospital and range of NHS health settings today, are used for secondary purposes without consent – despite the political acknowledgement that patients have an opt out – this sounded a bold new statement, and contrasted with his past stance.

Primary care data extraction for secondary uses, in the care.data programme, was not intended to be consensual. Will it become so?

Its plan so far has an assumed opt-in model, despite professional calls from some, such as at the the BMA ARM to move to an opt-in model, and the acknowledged risk of harm that it will do to patient trust.

The NHS England Privacy Assessment said: ‘The extraction of personal confidential data from providers without consent carries the risk that patients may lose trust in the confidential nature of the health service.’

A year into the launch, Jan 2014, a national communications plan should have solved the need for fair processing, but another year on, March 2015, there is postcode lottery, pilot approach.

If in principle, datasharing is to be decided by consensual active choice,  as it “is the operating principle now legally for the NHS” then why not now, for care.data, and for all?

When will the promised choice be enacted to withhold data from secondary uses and sharing with third parties beyond the HSCIC?

“we are going to move to a place where people will make those decisions as they currently do with wearable devices” [Widening digital participation, at the King’s Fund March 2015]

So when will we see this ‘move’ and what will it mean?

Why plan to continue to extract more data under the ‘old’ assumption principle, if ownership of data is now with the individual?

And who is to make the move first – NHS patients or NHS patriarchy – if patients use wearables before the NHS is geared up to them?

Looking back or forward thinking?

Last year’s programme has become outdated not only in principle, but digital best practice if top down dictatorship is out, and the individual is now to “manage their data as they wish.”

What might happen in the next two years, in the scope of the Five Year Forward Plan or indeed by 2020?

This shift in data creation, sharing and acknowledged ownership may mean epic change for expectations and access.

It will mean that people’s choice around data sharing; from patients and healthy controls, need considered early on in research & projects. Engagement, communication and involvement will be all about trust.

For the ‘worried well’, wearables could ‘provide digital “nudges” that will empower us to live healthier and better lives‘ or perhaps not.

What understanding have we yet, of the big picture of what this may mean and where apps fit into the wider digital NHS application and beyond?

Patients right to choose

The rights to information and decision making responsibility is shifting towards the patient in other applied areas of care.

But what data will patients truly choose to apply and what to share, manipulate or delete? Who will use wearables and who will not, and how will that affect the access to and delivery of care?

What data will citizens choose to share in future and how will it affect the decision making by their clinician, the NHS as an organisation, research, public health, the state, and the individual?

Selective deletion could change a clinical history and clinician’s view.

Selective accuracy in terms of false measurements [think diabetes], or in medication, could kill people quickly.

How are apps to be regulated? Will only NHS ‘approved’ apps be licensed for use in the NHS and made available to choose from and what happens to patients’ data who use a non-approved app?

How will any of their data be accessed and applied in primary care?

Knowledge is used to make choices and inform decisions. Individuals make choices about their own lives, clinicians make decisions for and with their patients in their service provision, organisations make choices about their business model which may include where to profit.

Our personal health data is the business intelligence of the health industry’s future.

Who holds the balance of power in that future delivery model for healthcare in England, is going to be an ongoing debate of epic proportions but it will likely change in drips rather than a flood.

It has already begun. Lobbyists and companies who want access to data are apparently asking for significant changes to be made in the access to micro data held at the ONS. EU laws are changing.

The players who hold data, will hold knowledge, will hold power.

If the NHS were a monopoly board game, data intermediaries would be some of the wealthiest sites, but the value they create from publicly funded NHS data, should belong in the community chest.

If consent is to be with the individual for all purposes other than direct care, then all data sharing bodies and users had best set their expectations accordingly. Patients will need to make wise decisions, for themselves and in the public interest.

Projects for research and sharing must design trust and security into plans from the start or risk failure through lack of participants.

It’s enormously exciting.  I suspect some apps will be rather well hyped and deflate quickly if not effective. Others might be truly useful. Others may kill us.

As twitter might say, what a time to be alive.

Digital opportunities for engaging citizens as far as apps and data sharing goes, is not only not about how the NHS will engage citizens, but how citizens will engage with what NHS offering.

Consent it seems will one day be king.
Will there or won’t there be a wearables revolution?
Will we be offered or choose digital ‘wellness tools’ or medically approved apps? Will we trust them for diagnostics and treatment? Or will few become more than a fad for the worried well?
Control for the individual over their own data and choice to make their own decisions of what to store, share or deny may rule in practice, as well as theory.
That practice will need to differentiate between purposes for direct clinical care and secondary uses as it does today, and be supported and protected in legislation, protecting patient trust.
“We are going to move to a place where people will make those decisions as they currently do with wearable devices, and other kinds of mobile, and we need to get to a point where people can plug their wearable device into their medical record, and essentially manage their data as they wish.”
However as ‘choice’ was the buzzword for NHS care in recent years – conflated with increasing the use of private providers – will consent be abused to mean a shift of responsibility from the state to the individual, with caveats for how it could affect care?
With that shift in responsibility for decision making, as with personalized budgets, will we also see a shift in responsibility for payment choices from state to citizen?
Will our lifestyle choices in one area exclude choice in another?
Could app data of unhealthy purchases from the supermarket or refusal to share our health data, one day be seen as refusal of care and a reason to decline it? Mr Kelsey hinted at this last question in the meeting.
Add a population stratified by risk groups into the mix, and we have lots of legitimate questions to ask on the future vision of the NHS.
He went on to say:
“we have got some very significant challenges to explore in our minds, and we need to do, quite urgently from a legal and ethical perspective, around the advent of machine learning, and …artificial intelligence capable of handling data at a scale which we don’t currently do […] .
“I happen to be the person responsible in the NHS for the 100K genomes programme[…]. We are on the edge of a new kind of medicine, where we can also look at the interaction of all your molecules, as they bounce around your DNA. […]
“The point is, the principle is, it’s the patient’s data and they must make decisions about who uses it and what they mash it up with.”
How well that is managed will determine who citizens will choose to engage and share data with, inside and outside our future NHS.
Simon Stevens earlier at the event, had acknowledged a fundamental power shift he sees as necessary:
“This has got to be central about what the redesign of care looks like, with a fundamental power shift actually, in the way in which services are produced and co-produced.”

That could affect everyone in the NHS, with or without a wearables revolution.

These are challenges the public is not yet discussing and we’re already late to the party.

We’re all invited. What will you be wearing?

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[Previous: part one here #NHSWDP 1  – From the event “Digital Participation and Health Literacy: Opportunities for engaging citizens” held at the King’s Fund, London, March 18, 2015]

[Previous: part two #NHSWDP 2: Smartphones: the single most important health treatment & diagnostic tool at our disposal]

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Apple ResearchKit: http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/09/apple-introduces-researchkit-turning-iphones-into-medical-diagnostic-devices/#lZOCiR:UwOp
Digital nudges – the Tyranny of the Should by Maneesha Juneja http://maneeshjuneja.com/blog/2015/3/2/the-tyranny-of-the-should

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smartphones: the single most important health treatment & diagnostic tool at our disposal [#NHSWDP 2]

After Simon Stevens big statement on smartphones at the #NHSWDP event, I’d asked what sort of assessment had the NHS done on how wearables’ data would affect research.

#digitalinclusion is clearly less about a narrow focus on apps than applied skills and online access.

But I came away wondering how apps will work in practice, affect research and our care in the NHS in the UK, and much more.

What about their practical applications and management?

NHS England announced a raft of regulated apps for mental health this week, though it’s not the first approved.  

This one doesn’t appear to have worked too well.

The question needs an answer before many more are launched: how will these be catalogued, indexed and stored ? Will it be just a simple webpage? I’m sure we can do better to make this page user friendly and intuitive.

This British NHS military mental health app is on iTunes. Will iTunes carry a complete NHS approved library and if so, where are the others?

We don’t have a robust regulation model for digital technology, it was said at a recent WHF event, and while medical apps are sold as wellness or fitness or just for fun, patients could be at risk.

In fact, I’m convinced that while medical apps are being used by consumers as medical devices, for example as tests, or tools which make recommendations, and they are not thoroughly regulated, we *are* at risk.

If Simon Stevens sees smartphones as: “going to be the single most important health treatment and diagnostic tool at our disposal over the coming decade and beyond,” then we’d best demand the tools that work on them, work safely. [speech in full]

And if his statement on their importance is true, then when will our care providers be geared up to accepting extracts of data held on a personal device into the local health record at a provider – how will interoperability, testing and security work?

And who’s paying for them? those on the library right now, have price tags. The public should be getting lots of answers to lots of questions.

“Over the coming decade”  has already started.

What about Research?: I know the Apple ResearchKit had a big reaction, and I’m sure there’s plenty of work already done on expectations of how data sharing in wearables affect research participation. (I just haven’t read it yet, but am interested to do so,  feel free to point any my way).

I was interested in the last line in this article: “ResearchKit is a valiant effort by Apple, and if its a hit with scientists, it could make mass medical research easier than ever.”

How do we define ‘easier’? Has Apple hit on a mainstream research app? How is ‘mass medical research’ in public health for example, done today and how may it change?

Will more people be able to participate in remote trials?

Will more people choose to share their well-being data and share ‘control’ phenotype data more in depth than in the past?

Are some groups under- or not-at-all represented?

How will we separate control of datasharing for direct care and for other secondary uses like research?

Quality: Will all data be good data or do we risk research projects drowning in a data tsunami of quantity not quality? Or will apps be able to target very specific trial data better than before?

How: One size will not fit all. How will data stored in wearables affect research in the UK? Will those effects differ between the UK and the US, and will app designs need different approaches due to the NHS long history and take into account single standards and be open? How will research take historical data into account if apps are all ‘now’? How will research based on that data be peer reviewed?

Where: And as we seek to close the digital divide here at home, what gulf may be opening up in the research done in public health, the hard to reach, and even between ‘the west’ and ‘developing’ countries?

In the UK will the digital postcode lottery affect care? Even with a wish for wifi in every part of the NHS estate, the digital differences are vast. Take a look at Salford – whose digital plans are worlds apart from my own Trust which has barely got rid of Lloyd George folders on trolleys.

Who: Or will in fact the divide not be by geography, but by accessibility based on wealth?  While NHS England talks about digital exclusion, you would hope they would be doing all they can to reduce it. However, the mental health apps announced just this week each have a price tag if ‘not available’ to you on the NHS.

Why: on what basis will decisions be made on who gets them prescribed and who pays for the,  where apps are to be made available for which area of diagnosis or treatment, or at all if the instructions are “to find out if it’s available in your area email xxx or call 020 xxx. Or you could ask your GP or healthcare professional.”

The highest intensity users of the NHS provision, are unlikely to be the greatest users of growing digital trends.

Rather the “worried well” would seem the ideal group who will be encouraged to stay away from professionals, self-care with self-paid support from high street pharmacies. How much could or will this measurably benefit the NHS, the individual and make lives better? As increasingly the population is risk stratified and grouped into manageable portions, will some be denied care based on data?

Or will the app providers be encouraged to promote their own products, make profits, benefit the UK plc regardless of actual cost and measurable benefits to patients?

In 2013, IMS Health reported that more than 43,000 health-related apps were available for download from the Apple iTunes app store. Of those, the IMS Institute found that only 16,275 apps are directly related to patient health and treatment, and there was much to be done to move health apps from novelty to mainstream.

Reactionary or Realistic – and where’s the Risks Assessment before NHS England launches even more approved apps?

At the same time as being exciting,  with this tempting smörgåsbord of shiny new apps comes a set of new risks which cannot responsibly be ignored. In patient safety, cyber security, and on what and who will be left out.

Given that basic data cannot in some places be shared between GP and hospital due for direct care to local lack of tech and the goal is another five years away, how real is the hype of the enormous impact of wearables going to be for the majority or at scale?

On digital participation projects: “Some of the work that has already been done by the Tinder Foundation, you take some of the examples here, with the Sikh community in  Leicester around diabetes, and parenting in other parts of the country, you can see that this is an agenda which can potentially get real quite quickly and can have quite a big impact.”
(Simon Stevens)

These statements, while each on different aspects of digital inclusion, by Simon Stevens on smartphones, and scale, and on consent by Tim Kelsey, are fundamentally bound together.

What will wearables mean for diagnostics, treatment and research in the NHS? For those who have and those who have not?

How will sharing data be managed for direct care and for other purposes?

What control will the patriarchy of the NHS reasonably expect to have over patients choice of app by any provider? Do most patients know at all, what effect their choice may have for their NHS care?

How will funding be divided into digital and non-digital, and be fair?

How will we maintain the principles and practice of a ‘free at the point of access’ digital service available to all in the NHS?

Will there really be a wearables revolution? Or has the NHS leadership just jumped on a bandwagon as yet without any direction?

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[Next: part three  – on consent – #NHSWDP 3: Wearables: patients will ‘essentially manage their data as they wish’. What will this mean for diagnostics, treatment and research and why should we care?] 

[Previous: part one – #NHSWDP 1: Thoughts on Digital Participation and Health Literacy: Opportunities for engaging citizens in the NHS – including Simon Stevens full keynote speech]

Thoughts on Digital Participation and Health Literacy: Opportunities for engaging citizens in the NHS [#NHSWDP 1]

“..smartphones […] the single most important health treatment and diagnostic tool at our disposal over the coming decade and beyond “

That’s what Simon Stevens said at a meeting on “digital participation and health literacy: opportunities for engaging citizens” in the National Health Service this week, at the King’s Fund in London.

It seemed a passing comment, but its enormity from the Chief Executive of the commissioning body for the NHS, made me catch my breath.

Other than inspiration from the brilliance of Helen Milner, Chief Executive of the Tinder Foundation – the only speaker who touched on the importance of language around digital participation – what did I take away from the meeting?

The full text of Simon Steven’s speech is below at the end of this post, but he didn’t elaborate further on this comment.

Where to start?

The first thing I took away to think about, was the impact of the statement. 

“the single most important health treatment and diagnostic tool at our disposal over the coming decade and beyond “

So I thought about that more in a separate post, part two.

The second, was on consent.

This tied into the statement by Tim Kelsey, Director of Patients and Information at NHS England. It seems that the era when consent will be king is fast approaching, and I thought about this more in part three.

The third key learning I had of the day, which almost everyone I met voiced to me was, that the “best bit of these events is the learnings outside the sessions, from each other. From other people you meet.”

That included Roger who we met via video. And GP Dr Ollie Hart. All the tweeps I’ve now met in real life, and as Roz said, didn’t disappoint. People with experience and expertise in their fields. All motivated to make things better and make things work, around digital, for people.

Really important when thinking about ‘digital’ it doesn’t necessarily mean remote or reduce the people-time involved.

Change happens through people. Not necessarily seen as ‘clients’ or ‘consumers’ or even ‘customers’. How human interaction is supported by or may be replaced by digital contact fascinates me.

My fourth learning? was about how to think about data collection and use in a personalised digital world.

Something which will be useful in my new lay role on the ADRN approvals panel (which I’m delighted to take on and pretty excited about).

Data collection is undergoing a slow but long term sea change, in content, access, expectations, security & use.

Where, for who, and from whom data is collected varies enormously. It’s going to vary even more in future if some will have free access to apps, to wifi, and others be digitally excluded.

For now, the overall effect is perhaps only ripples on the surface (like interruptions to long-term research projects due to HSCIC data stops after care.data outcry) but research direction, and currents of thought may shift fundamentally if how we collect data changes radically for even small pockets of society, or the ‘worried well’.

My fifth learning, was less a learning and more the triggering of lots of questions on wearables about which I want to learn more.

#digitalinclusion is clearly less about a narrow focus on apps than applied skills and online access.

But I came away wondering how apps will affect research and the NHS in the UK, and much more.

[Next: part two #NHSWDP 2: Smartphones: the single most important health treatment & diagnostic tool at our disposal – on wearables]

[And: part three #NHSWDP 3: Wearables & Consent: patients will ‘essentially manage their data as they wish’. What will this mean for diagnostics, treatment and research and why should we care?]

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Full text of the speech given by Simon Stevens, Keynote speaker:

“The reality is we all can see that we’ve got to change […] as part of that we have got to have more integrated services, between primary and specialist services, between physical and mental health services, and between health and social care services.

“And the guiding principle of that integration has got to be care that is personal, and coordinated around individuals, with leadership of communities and patient groups.

“There is no way that can happen without a strong, technological underpinning using the information revolution which is sweeping just about every other part of the economy.

“We are not unusual in this country in having a health sector which has been a little slower, in some respects, than many other parts of national life to take full advantage of that.

“We are not unusual, because that is the experience of health services in every industrialised country.

“We obviously have a huge opportunity, and have a comparative advantage in the way that the NHS is organised, to put that right.

“We know that 8 out of 10 adults are now online, we know that two thirds of people in this country have got smartphones which is going to be the single most important health treatment and diagnostic tool at our disposal over the coming decade and beyond.

“But we know we have got 6.4m people who are not.

“And so when you of course then get serious about who are those six and a half million people, many of them are our highest users of services with the greatest needs.

“So this is not an optional extra. This has got to be central about what the redesign of care looks like, with a fundamental power shift actually, in the way in which services are produced and co-produced.

“This agenda goes to the heart of what we’ve got to get right, not just on inequalities but around co-production of services and the welcome steps that have been taken by the organisations involved, I think that the point is obviously we have now got to scale this in a much more fundamental fashion, but when you look at the impact of what has already been achieved, and some of the work that has already been done by the Tinder Foundation, you take some of the examples here, with the Sikh community in  Leicester around diabetes, and parenting in other parts of the country, you can see that this is an agenda which can potentially get real quite quickly and can have quite a big impact.

“The early evaluation anyway indicates that about half of people involved say they are leading healthier lives on the back of it, 48% in healthy eating, a third do more physical activity, 72% say they have saved money or time.

“Given that we are often talking about resource poor, time poor communities, that is hugely impactful as well.

“So my role here today, I think is simply to underline the weight that we place on this, as NHS England nationally, to thank all of you for the engagement that you have been having with us, and to learn from the discussion we are about to have as what you see where you see key priorities and what you need from us.”

[March 18, 2015 at the event “Digital Participation and Health Literacy: Opportunities for engaging citizens” held at the King’s Fund, London]

 

The future of care.data in recent discussions

Questions were raised at two health events this week, on the status of the care.data programme.

The most recent NHS England announcement about the care.data rollout progress, was made in October 2014.

What’s the current status of Public Information?

The IIGOP review in December 2014 [1], set 27 criteria for the programme to address.

The public has not yet seen a response, but according to the GPES minutes one was made at the end of January.

Will it be released in the public domain?

An updated privacy impact assessment “was approved by the care.data programme board and will be published in February 2015.” It has not yet been made public.

Limited and redacted programme board materials were released and the public awaits to see if a business case or more will be released in the public interest.

Risks and issues have been redacted or not released at all, such as the risk register.

There is no business case in place, confirmed page 6 of the October 2014 board minutes – I find that astonishing.

It is hard to know if more material will be made public as recommended in their own transparency agenda.

What is the current state of open questions?

Professionals and public are still interested in the current plan, and discussions this week at the Roy Lilley chat with Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP, again raised some open questions.

1. What happened to penalties for misuse and ‘one strike and out’ ?

Promised  in Parliament by Dr. Dan Poulter,  Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, a year ago – questions on penalties are still being asked and  without a clear public answer of all that has changed since then and what remains to be done:

care.data penalties are unclear

Poulter on care.data penalties

[Hansard, March 25 2014 ] [2]

Some changes are being worked on [written evidence to HSC]*[7] planned for autumn 2015 – but does it clarify what has happened concretely to date and how it will protect patients in the pathfinder?

“The department is working to table these regulations in Parliament in 2015, to come into force in the autumn.”

Did this happen? Are the penalties proportionate for big multi-nationals, or will other safeguards be introduced, such as making misuse a criminal offence, as suggested?

2. What about promises made on opt out?

One year on the public still has no fair processing of personal data released by existing health providers. It was extracted in the past twenty-five years, the use of which by third parties was not public knowledge. (Data from hospital visits (HES), mental health, maternity data etc).

The opt out of all data sharing from secondary care such as A&E, stored at the HSCIC, was promised by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, a year ago, on February 25th 2014.

It has still not come into effect and been communicated:

Jeremy Hunt on care.data opt out

[Hansard February 25 2014, col 148] [3]

Jeremy Hunt MP

 

In fact the latest news reported in the media was that opt out ‘type 2’ was not working, as expected. [4]

Many in the public have not been informed at all that they can request opt out, as the last public communication attempt failed to reach all households, yet their data continues to be released.

3. What about clarifying the purposes of the Programme?

The public remains unclear about the purpose of the whole programme and data sharing, noted at the Roy Lilley event:

A business case, and a risk benefit analysis would improve this.

Flimsy assurances based on how data may be used in the initial extraction will not be enough to assure the public how their data will be used in future and by whom, not just the next six months or so.

Once released, data is not deleted, so a digital health footprint is not just released for care.data, it is given up for life. How much patients trust the anonymous, pseudonymous, and what is ‘de-identified’ data depends on the individual, but in a world where state-held data matching form multiple sources is becoming the norm, many in the public are skeptical.[5]

The controls over future use and assurances that are ‘rock solid’, will only be trustworthy if what was promised, happens.

To date, that is not the case or has not been communicated.

What actions have been taken recently?

Instead of protecting the body, which in my opinion has over the last two years achieved external scrutiny of care.data and ensuring promises made were kept, the independent assurance committee, the IAG, is to be scrapped.

The data extraction and data release functions are to be separated.

This could give the impression that data is no longer to be extracted only when needed for a specific purpose, but lends weight to the impression that all data is to be “sucked up” and purposes defined later. If care.data is purposed to replace SUS, it would not be a surprise.

It would however contravene fair processing data protection which requires the purposes of use to be generally clear before extraction.  Should use change, it must be fair. [For example, to have had consent for data sharing for direct care, but then use the data for secondary uses by third parties,  is such a significant change, one can question whether that falls under ‘fair’ looking at ICOs examples.]

So, what now, I asked Dr. Poulter after the Guardian healthcare debate on Tuesday evening this week on giving opt out legal weight?
(I would have asked during the main session, but there was not enough time for all questions).

care.data opt out open question

 

He was not able to give any concrete commitment to the opt out for HES data, or care.data, and simply did not give any answer at all.

What will happen next? Will the pathfinders be going live before the election in May? I asked.

Without any precise commitment, he said that everything was now dependent on Dame Fiona’s IIGOP response to the proposals [made by NHS England].

cd_metw2 Dan Poulter MP

 

What has happened to Transparency?

The public has not been given access to see what the NHS England response to the IIGOP/ Caldicott December review was.

The public has no visibility of what the risks are, as seen by the programme board.

The public is still unclear on what the expected benefits are, to measure those risks against.

And without a business case, the public does not know how much it is costing.

Without these, the public cannot see how the care.data board and DH is effectively planning, measuring progress, and spending public money, or how they will be accountable for its outcomes.

The sad thing about this, is that transparency and “intelligent grown up debate” as Sir Manning called for last year, would move this programme positively ahead.

Instead it seems secretive, which is not building trust.  The deficit of that trust is widely recognised and still needs solidly rebuilt.

Little seems to have been done since last year to make it so.

“Hetan Shah, executive director of the Royal Statistical Society said, ‘Our research shows a “data trust deficit”. In this data-rich world, companies and government have to earn citizens’ trust in how they manage and use data – and those that get it wrong will pay the price.” [Royal Statistical Society, 22 July 2014][6]

Shame.

Care.data is after all, meant to be for the public good.

care.data purposes are unclear
It would be in the public interest to get answers to these questions from recent events.

 

refs:

1. IIGOP care.data report December 2014 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/iigop-report-on-caredata

2. Hansard March 25th 2014: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140325/halltext/140325h0002.htm

3. Hansard February 25th 2014: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140225/debtext/140225-0001.htm

4. NHS England statement on Type 2 opt out http://www.england.nhs.uk/2015/01/23/data-opt-out/

5. Ipsos MORI June 2014 survey: https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3407/Privacy-and-personal-data.aspx

6. Royal Statistical Society on the ‘trust deficit’ http://www.statslife.org.uk/news/1672-new-rss-research-finds-data-trust-deficit-with-lessons-for-policymakers

7. *additional note made, Sun 15th incl. reference HSC Letter from HSCIC

The Politics of Envy

This week the Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman MP caused some furore in the Mirror and wider media, for having said, “the politics of envy” in Parliament.

The paper reported that the Labour frontbencher Stella Creasy said she was shocked:

“Following the law isn’t the politics of envy, it’s the politics of justice.”

It was in a debate on the minimum wage, in response to questions from other MPs why so few firms had been prosecuted since 2010, for not paying the legal minimum wage requirements.

Nine firms had been charged for non-compliance since 2010:

He said: “Prosecutions may satisfy the politics of envy of the Opposition, but they are not the best mechanism to drive compliance.”

What a contrast with Mr Freeman’s remarks I saw first hand in prosecutions at the Magistrate’s Courts last week.

I saw a 32 year old man prosecuted and told to pay £178 in fines and costs, for stealing a £13.99 bottle of vodka from Aldi.

A young builder who would have the same, £178 in fines and costs, deducted weekly from his benefits, prosecuted for a 3am drunken lunge which the defendant can’t remember, and missed its mark.

A 15 year-old who without lawyer, parents or having read the paperwork on his charges, pleaded guilty in an adult court to stealing a bicycle wheel and then had to wait around on the off chance a juvenille trained magistrate could hear the whole thing again, to sentence him.

A homeless man pleaded guilty to handling a set of stolen hair straighteners. He needed healthcare, not prosecution.

EDF was in getting court orders for forced entry to homes which would be cut off for non-payment of energy bills.

If “prosecutions are not the best mechanism to drive compliance” for big firms who exploit their staff, why is prosecution the mechanism we use every single day to punish the weakest in society?

It was a sad procession of petty crimes driven, not by envy, but by desperation – homelessness, unemployment and alcoholism.

Some defendants were grumpy, most bashful, and quite clearly, none were happy. There was not one of them who showed any hope.

The teenager looked fed up with the system, and looking him in the eye, I saw someone the system has clearly already let down.

In society which is so imbalanced, and with MPs earning well, some having second jobs, you cannot blame some people for feeling that MPs don’t deserve our trust. Or that some appear to have little empathy for those who have rarely have a positive bank balance.

People sanctioned for reasons few understand, prosecuted when life  gets out of control. Neither helps the person who is punished.

What jobs are these people being offered – or are we asking those who cannot work to do so – when the number of those sanctioned for not ‘participating in work related activity’ has steadily increased?

sanctions

 

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if  we could find a smart solution to prosecutions, when I agree with George, “they are clearly not the best mechanism to drive compliance”? albeit, in a different context.

Can we stop punishing the poor by making them poorer?

While I am sure it’s a worthy small business to champion, Mr Freeman’s twitter feed says he was popping in to buy a jumper at the end of February – the only one shown on the shop website is the Merino and Alpaca Roll Neck priced at £189.00.

I’m not making a personal criticism or envious of being able to buy a luxury sweater without apparent much need to budget for it.  Mr Freeman’s business background and investments speak for themselves.

But it does illustrate the enormous gulf between the everyday of some elected representatives and electorate. His words underpin it.

The use of these soundbites by MPs, is common across the board, but it is harmful to debate and stops many issues being properly discussed. It avoids further discussion, by changing the subject.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this turn of phrase. Looking back to last summer, Owen Jones wrote about it in the Guardian.

I find I have mixed reactions to Jones’ views, but on the politics of envy, he summed up rather well:

“The left, goes this narrative, is really driven by envy and spite towards those of pampered backgrounds.

“The “politics of envy” accusation attempts to shut down even the mildest attempts at social justice. It materialises when Labour suggests a 50% top rate of tax for all earnings above £150,000. The right screams “politics of envy” at a mansion tax – while championing the bedroom tax, which falls on the shoulders of disabled people and the poor.”

The convenient soundbite turned a debate on fair wages into yet another political counter, the defensive move became an attack.

But it’s an attack on the wrong things if we want a society which works, in all senses of the word.

Envy has nothing to do with social justice and fairness, and in this case, as Stella Creasy pointed out,  was about following the law.

The application of the law designed to protect workers from exploitation and to make sure it’s financially worth working at all.

It’s a safeguard which isn’t even aiming for best practices, but protecting the majority of workers from the worst.

It should be part of wider employment measures which also protect these kinds of extreme exploitation becoming more widespread.

Let’s face it, the minimum wage rates, aren’t decent living wages.

As we approach the General Election, I hope candidates will look in the mirror and ask themselves, why do you want to stand?

Who do you represent, serve and what kind of society do you want to live in? What society will your own and my children inherit?

The ‘politics of envy’ talk, only poisons the real subjects to debate by turning them into party political soundbites, when what we need are real solutions to real social issues.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this election campaign could address them with substance?

What would fair wages pay and how could we achieve them?

What would a truly just Justice System look like?

Now that, would be a leaders’ debate worth having.