And what of us lowly patients what say have we had in the
system of centralizing our health records? What guarantee is there
that our confidential records will be safe?
The national database of medical records is being created without
patients consent and while the Health Authorities tell us
our data will be safe and our authorization will be required for
access, this is a lie. The data will be made available to a range
of authorities such as the police under rather vague special
circumstances. These special circumstances have
not been defined but probably include political protests, petty
crime, and to harass ethnic minorities or the poorest in society.
A major worry is about the confidentiality of the database
after all who wants the highly sensitive information about their
health to be accessed by any Tom, Dick or Harry (Shipman)? The fundamental
problem with a central database of medical records is that it undermines
the relationship a patient has with their doctor. As Paul Steventon
a GP and chair of the Doctors Independent Network says Potential
exists in the ICRS as it is currently envisaged for the permanent
destruction of the privacy of UK citizens. Irreparable damage to
the profession and practice of medicine in Britain is an inevitable
The previous Home Secretary David Blunkett has talked about linking
the NHS database to the proposed ID card scheme, if Blunkett had
had his way the police, social services, etc. would all be allowed
access to the database and see your personal health records; our
accidents and their circumstances; our sexual relations and next
of kin. Medical records can reveal private facts and relations and
they can be humiliating. Medical records should be strictly confidential
between a doctor and their patient, no-one else should have access
to this information.
And while we hear bland assurances about how all the information
will be confidential, how do we know what will happen in the future?
Once the database is up and running it would be very easy for the
government to relax the legal terms and conditions for access. This
government has already under the guise of the war on terror
pushed through laws eroding the rights of minorities and protesters.
It is a business-bent government, which one day may give way to
the interests of private companies such as insurance agencies or
employers and concede access to them.
If you arent too happy with your medical records being shared
on a massive database, let your GP know, remember GPs dont
have to take part in the scheme and many are hostile to it. Ask
your doctor not to take part in the Choose and Book
system and do not give them your consent to book appointments for
you through it. Ask your GP to stick to the boycott of the Integrated
Care Record Service.
More info: Brighton Against Databases, email email@example.com
* Defy ID discussion next Wednesday 26th Cowley Club, 12 London
Rd., Brighton 6.30pm www.defy-id.org.uk/resources.htm
OF THE WEEK
Flap Flip Flop!
Prolific peace campaigner Lindis Percy was arrested outside US
spy base Menwith Hill for waving an upside down US flag with the
words The shame of Iraq written on it. According to
one flipped out police officer it was dangerous
she might flap it! On the same day two other peace protesters
had their car searched under the Terrorism Act. Lindis has now been
arrested eight times outside Menwith in as many weeks. www.caab.org.uk
FANCY GETTING INVOLVED WITH SCHNEWS?
Come and find out how you can help get
involved in writing and researching Wed 2nd Feb 12 noon
Want to help with our web site? - Thursday
3rd Feb 6pm (people with some web knowledge only please).
Book your place now firstname.lastname@example.org
or call us on 01273 685913
Five years ago the Bolivian city of Cochabamba erupted in riots
against Bechtel, the California-based multinational that had bought
up their water and was selling it back at kerr-azy prices. The water
privatization was forced on Bolivia by the World Bank as a loan
condition in 97. Bechtel were forced to leave the country,
but government repression left more than a hundred wounded and a
17-year-old boy dead.
Bechtel sued for $25 million, drawing a firestorm of international
protest, which made them settle for only 30 cents and they slunk
off with their tail between their legs. The Abengoa Corporation
of Spain, Bechtels co-investors, havent got the message
yet though. They are still demanding compensation for lost profits.
Now the city of El Alto, two hundred miles to the north, is doing
the same against a local company led by the French water giant,
Suez. El Alto is a growing urban sprawl that sits 14,000 feet above
sea level and is populated by waves of impoverished families arriving
from the economically desperate countryside.
Community groups in El Alto say that company has raised water prices
by 35% since it took over. The cost for new families to hook their
homes up to water and sewage is more than six months income
at the national minimum wage, and those outside the centre get no
clean water or sewers at all. Lack of access to clean water is a
chief cause of child illness in Bolivia, where nearly one in ten
children dies before the age of five. Families living in El Altos
outskirts rely on water from wells contaminated with industrial
waste. By failing to expand water infrastructure to these fast-growing
neighbourhoods, the company has left more than 200,000 people with
no possibility of access to water at all. Without water there
is no life, says Julian Perez, an advisor to the Federation
of El Alto Neighborhoods, so really it is life that the company
is depriving the people of El Alto.
The President of Bolivia has issued a formal decree that the country
is taking back control of the water. Suez Corporation says it isnt
ready to leave. This is where the El Alto water revolt stood at
the end of last week. Suez are enjoying the sunshine and seem to
think their little business venture is going well. A Suez spokesperson
declared that Shareholders will use all the legal recourses
at their disposal to protect their rights. Ending a contract that
is compliant and obtaining indisputable results will not be an easy
task for the Bolivian government.
To their credit, the government hasnt shot anybody and is
in agreement with the people of El Alto that Suez has failed them
and should leave. Bolivia is in turmoil nationally with huge nationwide
protests over gas prices. Fuel protests forced the resignation of
former President Gonzalo Sànchez de Lozada in October 2003
and his successor President Carlos Mesa has threatened to resign
if the current protests turned violent.
The underlying theme is the struggle of the Bolivian people to
keep some control over their countrys natural resources and
to resist the plunder that has been going on since the Spanish landed.
When Suez leave, as it seems they will, where will the money come
from to provide the people of Bolivia with water?
* For updates see www.democracyctr.org
* While yer at it, read Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia
by Oscar Olivera & Tom Lewis, South End Press, 2004.
SchNEWS in brief
- Terror Suspects Dad - a documentary
about Barbar Ahmad, another victim of the war on terror
who faces extradition to the US (see SchNEWS 474) - is on BBC2
next Weds 26th, 10pm www.freebabarahmad.com
- In the build-up to the Kyoto Climate March on Feb 12th
theres a couple of public meetings being held around the
country, including one in Brighton next Thursday (27th)
6pm, at Chichester Lecture Theatre, University of Sussex. For
other talks 02088553327 www.campaigncc.org
- Stop the Removals Demonstration against the governments
forced deportation of Zimbabwean asylum seekers, Sat 29th, 1-5pm,
Home Office, 50 Queen Annes Gate, London. email@example.com
- Glasgow Anarchist Day School Sat 29th Jan, 11am-6pm,
Kinning Park Centre.
- Earth First! Winter Moot 5-6 Feb somewhere in Sussex
07837 942373 www.eco-action.org/gathering
- International Anti-G8 Meeting, Tuebingen, Germany, 26-27
Feb. For people involved or interested in co-ordinating European
resistance to the 2005 G8 Summit. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mothers Of Invention
In a direct action protest run entirely by locals, the carnage
to make way for the Linslade bypass between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury
has been stopped since last Monday. Its taken a group of 40
mothers and kids to defend the land against the combined efforts
of contractors Fitzpatricks, Homegrown Timber Ltd and the police
as they try to drag the digging equipment onto the site to begin
work. And the destruction wouldnt just end with the road as
this is one of the Governments growth areas, with
Milton Keynes set to have 44,000 new houses by 2021 and Aylesbury
Two women have been arrested and charged with Aggravated Trespass
for chaining themselves to a digger. Bailed not to go near the Bypass
route, they have a preliminary court hearing on Jan 28th, and hope
to use the trial to call the legality of the scheme into question.
Road Block claims there are around 200 road schemes planned countrywide,
forming a roads programme to rival the Conservatives Roman-style
programme of the early 1990s.
* Urgent help is needed now - contact Victoria 07815 817108 email@example.com
* For daily updates www.linsladeprotest.oneuk.com/bypass/bypass.html
* See also www.roadalert.org.uk
Tim Spice(r) but Dim
Looking for a new line of work? Try working as a bodyguard in Iraq.
Its a health and safety nightmare, but the moneys good.
Former Special Forces soldiers are queuing up for jobs that can
pay more than $100,000 a year. More than 50 private security firms
are in Iraq today, with an estimated 20,000 hired guns working for
Now notorious mercenary Tim Spicer is in on the act. Last March
Spicers London-based company, Aegis Defense Services, bagged
a $293 million contract from the Pentagon to protect US diplomats
in Iraq, and coordinate the other security firms. Five Democratic
senators protested the Aegis contract on humanitarian grounds, citing
Spicers record. The army admitted they had been unaware of
trouble spots in Spicers past, but refused to
reconsider the contract.
Spicer is a killer-for-hire with a long record of scandal and bloodshed
behind him. He was embroiled in the attempted Equatorial Guinea
coup, along with hapless crook Mark Thatcher. Hes been arrested
for similar failed coups in Sierra Leone, and was paid $36 million
by the government of Papua New Guinea to suppress a rebellion. He
failed and the government collapsed. Another day another dollar.
His former company, Sandline International, illegally supplied
weapons to Sierra Leone, defying a UN arms embargo that had been
affirmed as British law. And, in an earlier scandal, two soldiers
in a British unit under Spicers command shot and killed a
Catholic teenager in Northern Ireland in 1992. The soldiers were
subsequently convicted of murder, but Spicer has steadfastly defended
Mark my words, this contract is going to come back and bite
them, said Rev. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus,
Hes a dangerous fellow. And as his record in Ireland
these guys dont change their spots.
Lt Col Spicer will be speaking at the School of Oriental and African
Studies next Thursday (27th) 6pm about his experiences in Africa.
Why not go along and ask for a job in the reconstruction
of Iraq? Want a ticket for the meeting? See www.royalafricansociety.org/what_we_do/ras-meetings/private_securitycompanies/view
or telephone The Royal African Society 020 7898 4390.
Brightons been crying out for one for a while - no, not another
poxy coffee shop but an independent local newsletter that tells
it how it is. Rough Music is named after the
old Sussex tradition of standing outside dodgy peoples houses
and making some noise. It aims to be monthly and you can pick up
copies around town. The first issue covers the teachers assistant
strike, Brighton arms dealers EDO, Shoreham airport and coffee shops.
If youve got any dirt youd like to get them to dig email
* South Coast Indymedia is now online covering Kent, Sussex
and Hampshire. See some saucy seaside postcards at... www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/southcoast
Isnt it a hassle having to queue for drinks when youre
out? And then trying to make yourself heard over shite house music?
And then realising youve run out of money? What a wind-up.
Wouldnt it be better if bars could just implant a chip in
your body, with your account details and personal information stored
on it? That way, theyd know your name as soon as you walked
in the door, and the barman would serve up your favourite drink
and automatically charge your account any time you walked near the
bar. Wouldnt that be easier for everyone?
If youre thinking, No, that sounds like a sinister
capitalist conspiracy with terrifying civil rights implications,
not to mention a good way to spunk all my cash on expensive drinks
without realising it, well, youre right. But thats
exactly the reward that Bar Soba in Glasgow is offering
its loyal customers. The VeriChip, which has a lifespan of 20 years
(and can be used for defence and homeland security purposes,
as well as bar tabs) is already in use in bars in Spain and Holland.
Itd be great if this catches on, one chipped punter
told the Observer, you could put all your personal details
and medical records on it. But, is there a free curry in it?
Just give it time, mate.
SchNEWS warns all patients, patience is a virtue... Honest!
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