NHS bosses have been accused of breaking data protection law by passing on medical records without consent. The potential breach was focussed around the closure of Harbottle Surgery in Northumberland, where the NHS suggested patients sign up with other practices up to 30 miles (48km) away. Some of these patients were advised that their files would be automatically transferred and this was done without consent from the patients. The NHS has argued that they did this to ensure, "continuity of care", and those patients targeted were those who were vulnerable.
In a letter sent out by the NHS patients were informed that the transfer was happening automatically because they have, "immediate health needs", and that all their medical files would be accessible immediately at their new practice. The letter did not provide any options for those affected to appeal against the action or query what was happening to their data.
Notably in relation to the issue of consent, many of the patients at the Harbottle Surgery had deliberately chosen not to register with a new practice in a stand off against the practice closing. Local Councillor, Steve Bridgett, has confirmed he is going to file a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office.