Category Archives: Politics

Update on care.data

Unsurprisingly it all kicked off about the care.data scheme that I last posted about, and it turns out that there are a lot better informed and better resourced people than I with an eye for this sort of thing. Reading, for example, the Guardian’s coverage of the topic will be far more informative than anything I could post.

I will however, update on their response to my letter.  I had hoped that by asking for them to clarify how and who the information was shared with, and thereby allowing me to take an informed decision I would get a nice, hopefully templated, response.

Instead I got the following:

Dear Mr Theyers

Thank you for your question about care.data. If you wish to opt out you must inform your GP. If you have any questions about how your data will be used please contact your GP.

Best regards

Not exactly the most positive response. Nor the more informative.

care.data and the HSCIC

You’ll probably have seen that Twitter is full of people encouraging us to opt out of the government’s care.data scheme (whereby non-anonymised health records are made available to non-NHS organisations).  The scheme is run by the HSCIC and, unless you specifically opt out with your GP, your data will be taking part.

What’s painfully unclear is exactly who gets access to this data. Universities and research organisations? Yay! Insurance companies and law enforcement? Boo! (you get my drift)

The magic key is “section 251 support“. Organisations with section 251 support have access to this information. So I’ve written to HSCIC asking them about it:

Dear Sir/Madam

As you may have seen Twitter is all a-flutter today about opting out of care.data.

I wonder if you could tell me a couple of things so that I can inform my decision as to whether to opt out or not?

  •  is there a public and up to date (and regularly updated) list of the organisations that have section 251 support?
  •  is the process by which an organisation applies and is given section 251 support public?
  •  is there a public and up to date (and regularly updated) list of current applications for section 251 support?

While I understand the need for the NHS to share information more freely to improve care outcomes I am extremely concerned about third parties (such as insurance companies) getting hold of this information and as such hope that you will be transparent about the organisations with access to this information.

Yours faithfully

Andy Theyers

I’ll let you know if I hear back.

In defence of sluts

As fun as it is to take the piss out of Godfrey Bloom’s ludicrousness, it’s worth remembering that just as we thirty/forty something bleeding heart liberal Twitter users aren’t down with the kids we also aren’t actually down with the older generation either.

In 1963 Katharine Whitehorn wrote an article for the Observer called “In Defence of Sluts”. In it she meant slut like Godfrey Bloom meant it. It was considered a watershed in women’s journalism. For a brief period every one of the newly liberated single girls with jobs, living alone in bedsits or in groups in shared houses, was a slut; she identified with the article, she bought books like Whitehorn’s own “Cooking in a Bedsitter”, and she took dirty clothes from the clothes basket because they were the cleanest thing in the house.

In 1963 my mum was 18 and living in the YWCA. My dad was 20 and living “in digs”. To them the word slut has always meant slovenly. They’ve always known that it could also be an insult — sexually derogatory — but like so many words they’ve never really accepted the change in meaning.

And that’s the generation of the UKIP heartland.

So when we all get up in arms about the out of touch dinosaur that is Godfrey Bloom and his ludicrous choice of words pretty much the entire UKIP core vote sighs dramatically and slams the door to its bedroom shouting “you just don’t understand” over its shoulder as it goes.

For all of Nigel Farage’s complaining he knows that what it really did was to highlight the difference, highlight how even David Cameron doesn’t understand them and build the barricades just a few inches higher.

An Internet election

I think they want us to think that this, like the Obama compaign before it, will be an Internet election.  Where smart people use the power of social media to get across the real messages of the election, empowering democracy and “getting the right result”.

What we’ve seen however, is the denizens of the Internet take the piss out of everyone  and both the main competitors make a complete hash of it (most recently).  Today’s example has to be the meta tags on www.number10.gov.uk:

<meta name="keywords" content="budget 2010,health,jobs and growth,life sciences,football,ada lovelace day,sarah brown,
            women,thameslink,trains,budget cabinet,israel,ssrb statement,piercing,tattoos,small businesses,
            trade credit insurance scheme,armed forces,idenity" />

Please, explain… tattoos? piercing? Ada Lovelace Day? Idenity?

Compare and contrast

I don’t really want to get all banker bashing, but these 3 stories really sum up my utter confusion about the end result of the “financial crisis”.  I’m an intelligent enough chap. I ought to get it, oughtn’t I?

I seem to have this awful Emperor’s new clothes kind of feeling that just won’t go away.

We won’t be forgetting Aviva here in a hurry

Aviva (formerly Norwich Union, formerly General Accident) is axing another 1,100 jobs, of which 570 are in York.  York’s already borne the brunt of NU’s consolidation in 2 previous rounds of heavy job losses.

With the loss of Terry’s chocolate, the huge reduction in Nestlé’s operations, the closure of the British Sugar plant (now we have no chocolate), the migration of huge chunks of the railway and Aviva’s previous consolidation we’ve lost thousands of jobs in the last few years.

In a city of only 100,000 that’s an awful lot of jobs to go. Losing another 570 today is a very heavy blow.