The 1950's photograph shows a group of carefree Scottish children. Today all will be well into their 60s or even early 70s.
Back then life was simple. Your health was looked after by your family, the GP, health visitor and school nurse. The professionals were only involved when family became concerned and home remedies had failed, although it was compulsory to visit the school nurse on her visits to your school. If she found anything untoward she would pass the information to the family and perhaps the GP and/or health visitor. It worked well as far as I'm aware and my myopia, resulting in a pair of pink plastic rimmed spectacles, was discovered by the school nurse.
My health file has followed me on my travels and I never had any problems until computer systems were introduced. Several times in recent years I've had to spend time giving specialists my medical history when it should have been available prior to my appointments. On these occasions I've been convinced that the introduction of computers has done nothing to improve the NHS's modern system of record keeping.
But it has suddenly occurred to me that these systems are not for my, or your, benefit. They're for the benefit of the state. Take the eCare programme for example. It's the umbrella for electronic sharing of personal data with Single Shared Assessment (SSA) and Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) - the English equivalent is Every Child Matters (ECM) - along with other programmes. One aspect of the GIRFEC approach is it 'supports a positive shift in culture, systems and practice'. What does that mean? Why do children require a shift in culture?
Sheila Struthers has written an excellent essay in which she notes that every citizen has a unique eCare identifier, or as one EU study puts it:
In the absence of identity cards a form of information 'link' across the services is provided by the CHI (Community Health Index21) Number. 90% of residents (soon to be 100%) have the number, allocated within two days of birth, which is their date of birth plus a four-digit identifier. The CHI number functions as a 'pseudo-identity' mechanism, and at present the automated matching of records is successful in about 67% of operations, with manual matching then taking place and any data corrections being fed back into the respective databases. Thus the CHI number provides an incrementally improving mechanism to link records across the domains of social inclusion.
No wonder the UK Government decided to abolish ID cards. One of Sheila's main points is that 'eCare and GIRFEC do not fit with the sensible-sounding draft principles which state that 'only the minimum amount of personal information needed for a specific purpose is collected, used or kept'. She then analyses eCare and its associated programmes. Please do read her article, including the SHANNARI assessment, because it is very revealing.
Another snippet she mentions is Triple P Parenting which Glasgow City Council is offering to every parent. I've spent some time perusing the website of Triple P Parenting and it may well have some international status, but to think that 'practioners' can give professional advice after a few hours' training, appalled me. There is, of course, no mention of cost to the client. What do Triple P Parenting offer that is any better than what health visitors offered back in the 50s? They understood every aspect of parenting and were the confidantes of many mothers, yet they've been cast out into the wilderness to allow for the introduction of the likes of TPP.
Do I feel today that my family and myself are safer, health-wise and generally than they were in the 50s? Definitely not. Our freedoms have been eroded little by little and no matter how much we protest we're ignored. It's not in my nature to believe in conspiracies, but it's very obvious we're being much more tightly controlled than we were 50 years ago. Big brother just gets bigger and it's going to get worse.
Remember, it's the taxpayer who pays.