Computer Weekly attack on Department of Health

A Computer Weekly journalist has accused the Department of Health of being ‘disingenuous’in its response to his revelations about the possibility of it storing patient information abroad.

CW executive editor Tony Collins, who broke the story of an NHS review into sending patient data abroad, said that the DoH gave him one response, but a different one to the national press which followed up his exclusive.

Collins said: ‘We think it very disingenuous of the department to say simply ‘no review’ and ‘no plans to send the data abroad’ if it had a review and decided for various reasons for the time being it’s not going to [go ahead with it].

‘When the nationals rang the DoH, it gave them a different reaction to the one that it had given us. There seems to be a different response that some parts of Government are adopting, at least towards us.

‘It gave us a minimal statement, waited to see our story, and then gave more comprehensive denials to the nationals.”

A spokesperson for the DoH said: ‘In response to Computer Weekly’s question, ‘is the possibility being considered of having patient data processed abroad’, a categorical ‘no’ was emailed to the title.

‘A further statement was emailed by the Department of Health emphasising the NHS’s legal responsibility to data protection.

‘When we saw the embargoed PA copy, based on the forthcoming Computer Weekly article, we responded to the new allegation about a review. This allegation had not been put to us in Computer Weekly’s initial question.”

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