A CAMPAIGN group fighting privatisation in the NHS is urging patients to opt out of a new central system for medical records.

Southend Keep Our NHS Public has concerns about the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which will hold the records of patients.

People are being asked through their GPs if they wish to opt out of this to keep their data private.

Norman Traub, secretary of the group, said: “Patients do have the right to opt out of this process, but the onus is on them to ask for an opt-out, which can be exercised only until the end of this month.

“The problem with patients medical records being held at the HSCIC is that private companies can access this information on payment of a fee.

“Although the data is anonymised, it includes postcodes and NHS numbers.

“Companies that already have information on you, such as employers and insurance companies, would be able to match up the sources and details about you and your health would be available to them.

“In view of the fact that the system is open to abuse by these companies, our organisation opposes GPs having to release patients’ medical records and is campaigning for patients to opt out of the care data programme.”

The group nationally is asking the Government to come up with alternative proposals to enable data to be used in a safe way for research and planning.

Dr Traub urged people to write to their GPs asking to opt out of the scheme.