Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to suspend any plans to use PPS numbers as patient identifiers as it would severely compromise their privacy and would be intended to be shared with third parties.

Senator Warfield said:

“In November 2017, a number of hospitals received correspondence from the HSE that a patient’s PPS number must be provided as their unique identifier. The correspondence went onto say that this is a requirement for all transactions processed for reimbursement through the PCRS, as required by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

“Furthermore, the HSE is on record in previous Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health meetings stating the PPS would not wholly be used as a patient identifier. This is deeply concerning as it contravenes doctor-patient confidentiality and data protection legislation, as the information is being requested to be shared to a third party.

“It is the view of Sinn Féin that patients should not have their medical information shared, in any case, where they can be identifiable by anyone other than their physician.

“I have written to Minister Harris requesting that the rollout of this procedure be immediately suspended until a more robust identifier be used that does not breach a healthcare user’s right to privacy.”