Not Saussure

April 25, 2007

More IT fun from HMG…

Filed under: nemesis, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 8:20 pm

This is getting beyond a joke.

Yesterday, in Parliament:

Mrs. Dorries: As my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) has said, there is no argument about the fact that doctors’ careers and training processes needed modernising. The issue is that it has been a complete, unmitigated disaster, yet the Secretary of State is not accepting responsibility for that.

Ms Hewitt: I am sure that the hon. Lady will not accept my word for it, but if she just looks at the several statements made by the review group under Professor Neil Douglas, she will see that it has not been a complete, unmitigated disaster. The applications system has actually been working well in many places, particularly for GP posts.

Channel 4 News, today:

The Medical Training Application Service or MTAS is a computer system where student and junior doctors apply for jobs – a system they were repeatedly assured was secure.Today Channel Four News can reveal that since at least 9 o’ clock this morning, the details of medical students applying for foundation course posts – the first year to become a junior doctor – were openly available to the public.

This is astonishing. Not only can we see what they wrote in their applications; their addresses; their phone numbers; who their referees are. We can also see if there were white, heterosexual, gay Asian, Christian, Jewish or Hindu, and we can also see if they have got police records and what the crime was.

Once we were informed we checked the site to see if there had been a massive breach of this already controversial system – and there had been.

At 4.35pm we told the Department of Health. The chair of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee also called the department – at 5.05 they closed the breach – it took them just half an hour.

They were completely unaware that it had been open – at a minimum since this morning.

The Department of Health’s excuse? They wouldn’t put up a minister, but told Channel 4,

We apologise to any applicants whose details have been improperly accessed. This URL was made available to a strictly limited number of people making checks as part of the employment process.This information was never publicly available through the MTAS website and was only accessible for a short period of time after details of the URL were leaked. The MTAS team fixed the problem as soon as it was brought to their attention.

This is a very serious matter and is under investigation.

So, the security precaution was — err — hoping that no leaked the URL. Hmm. Good thinking, that

And these are the people who want to computerise everyone’s medical records and who also want to run ID cards.

Oh well, at least they’re investigating the matter, which is more than Tony Blair’s willing to do about

the complaint by Peter Clarke, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, about “deliberate leaking of highly sensitive operational intelligence” which compromised investigations and in the worst cases put lives at risk.

The Telegraph explains,

Last night, Mr Clarke suggested culprits were trying to “squeeze out some short-term presentational advantage” by secretly briefing on anti-terror operations. His comments were seen as an attack on the Government’s army of special advisers, or “spin doctors”.He cited leaks during a counter-terrorism operation in Birmingham on January 31 and claims there was an alleged plot to behead a Muslim member of the British Army.

“On the morning of the arrests, almost before the detainees had arrived at the police stations to which they were being taken for questioning, it was clear that key details of the investigation and the evidence had been leaked. This damaged the interview strategy of the investigators, and undoubtedly raised community tensions,” Mr Clarke said.

He said people providing off-the-record briefings should be “thoroughly ashamed”.

“What I am talking about is the deliberate leaking of highly sensitive operational intelligence, often classified, and the unauthorised release of which can be a criminal offence,” he said.

and adds the helpful reminder that

The leaks occurred a day after the arrest of Lord Levy and a day before No 10 admitted that Tony Blair had been interviewed by police for a second time in the cash for honours affair.

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  1. […] see that Not Saussure has plenty more on this […]

    Pingback by Oh, whoops « The ARCH Blog — April 26, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  2. […] Filed under: nemesis, UK, Medicine, Politics — notsaussure @ 12:29 am Edit This Hard upon yesterday’s revelation that junior doctors’ personal details were publicly available on the ill-fated MTAS website, […]

    Pingback by More IT fun from HMG -- too much of a good thing « Not Saussure — April 27, 2007 @ 12:30 am

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