Speeding-up Big Brother in Scotland after the Independence Vote*
By Ben Borland
THE SNP is to create a £12million database containing medical details about every child in Scotland, with officials admitting the trove of information could be stored abroad.
The network will join with another upgraded NHS database containing the medical records of everybody north of the Border, known as the Community Health Index (CHI).
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie called for a parliamentary debate on the plans, saying they would “fuel concerns” Scotland is moving closer to ID cards.
Ten-year contracts for both projects have been put out to tender by the Scottish Government, with a target start date of August 2016 and a total cost of up to £32million.
Ministers were accused of “jumping the gun” as the so-called super-ID database, or the NHS Central Register, is still awaiting a parliamentary review.
At the moment, the CHI and a variety of child health records are managed by IT company Atos Origin at centres in Livingston and Edinburgh.
But, in a Q&A for potential bidders, NHS National Services Scotland stated:
“The data has to be secure but not necessarily in the UK if security can be satisfied by a data centre no matter where it is.”
This will add to fears that millions of people will be left vulnerable to cyber criminals and online paedophiles.
The new Scottish Child Public Health and Wellbeing System will replace the Child Health Screening Programmes (CHSP) and the Scottish Immunisation and Recall System (SIRS).
It will be required to “schedule routine health reviews of children from shortly after birth until they leave secondary school”.
It will also provide “support for early identification, assessment and monitoring of children with additional support needs”.
A further proviso is the ability to record any parents who refuse to allow their child to be immunised or attend a health review.
Mr Rennie said: “The emergence of this new children’s database, combined with plans for the super ID database, will fuel concerns that we are moving closer towards ID cards.
“SNP Ministers need to understand that they do not have carte blanche to harvest our personal data without reason. Parliament deserves a full debate on the approval of these tenders.”
Ross Anderson, chair of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, drew comparisons with Tony Blair’s controversial Contactpoint, a database of every child in England.
Deemed “unsafe and illegal” before it was axed in 2010, Contactpoint also required consent for sensitive details to be stored. Mr Anderson said:
“There are many reasons why trying to centralise everything is a bad idea, and it’s not just about privacy and human rights.
“There are very serious safety issues; if GPs no longer control their own records but have to use a shared record to which arbitrary stuff can be added by social workers, probation officers and others with quite different training, culture and incentives, things become rapidly unworkable.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:
“This is not an expansion but an upgrade of existing databases, some of which are 25 years old and which have become expensive to maintain.
“It does not represent an extension of the personal data held by the NHS and is not linked to previous proposals to change the operations of the NHS Central Register.”