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NHS accused of prying into patients’ musical preferences

Friday, 20 October 2017

NHS accused of prying into patients’ musical preferences

The NHS faces a revolt by doctors over plans to ask patients “intrusive” questions about their musical orientation. Healthcare professionals will refuse to quiz patients about their musical preferences despite proposals outlined by NHS England, leading doctors have warned.

Under the plan, people over the age of 16 will be asked “Which of the following best describes your musical tastes?” They can say they are “mainstream”, “a bit weird”, “completely freaky” or “other”.

Health records

NHS England says it needs to record people’s musical orientation to fulfil legal duties under the Equality Act.  

A spokesman said: “All health bodies and local authorities are responsible for ensuring that nobody is discriminated against on account of their musical tastes. We know that some people are being denied care because they feel their GP may not understand their choice of music. Fans of so called ‘hard to listen to’ genres such as thrash metal or crunk may be reluctant to talk to a GP, particularly if they suspect the person treating them prefers English chamber music or listens to John Denver in the evenings.”

A representative of the Royal College of Medicine said many doctors would refuse to ask personal questions that have nothing to do with a patient’s health. “If a patient presents with back ache or constipation, their views on the relative merits of Adele and Amy Winehouse will be largely irrelevant,” she said.  

History of abuse

She added that the scheme could have the opposite of the intended effect and deter some patients from seeing a doctor.

“Those with embarrassing conditions, such as an enlarged Boyzone or a history of chronic Coldplay may be less likely to seek treatment, with potentially disastrous consequences for their wellbeing,” she said.   

A spokesman for the RCGP said there could be circumstances in which it would be useful for GPs to find out more about a patient’s musical history. “We know that a person’s musical preferences can have a bearing on their health. For example, listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals is associated with mild cognitive dysfunction while prolonged exposure to seventies folk-rock may lead to craft ale and other substance abuse,” he said.

Backing track

NHS England said the musical orientation monitoring information standard had been designed mainly to provoke hysterical headlines in the The Telegraph and Daily Mail, not for implementation.

In a statement NHS England made clear that “the purpose of this information standard is to help NHS bodies to comply with the law not to gather information. People can listen to anything they like.”

It continued: “We recommend that musical orientation monitoring occurs at every face to face contact with the patient, unless trusts and GPs prefer not to. Patients will not be compelled to answer but if they opt out a default entry of The Doors or Grateful Dead will go on their health record.” 

Music editor: Julian Patterson


Judy Aldred
Judy Aldred says:
Oct 20, 2017 09:15 AM

An absolute cracker!

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Oct 20, 2017 10:42 AM

Thanks, Judy. No relation to any existing NHS England policy of course.

pam enderby
pam enderby says:
Oct 20, 2017 11:49 AM

Brilliant!! Just what we want people to spend time on!

Sygal Amitay
Sygal Amitay says:
Oct 20, 2017 02:56 PM

I think the default entry should be Dead or Alive, should they choose to opt out...

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson says:
Oct 20, 2017 05:40 PM

When faced with a patent monitoring survey that I don't understand I always ask: 'What would Johnny Rotten do ...?' :)

Anonymous says:
Oct 21, 2017 10:54 PM

Very funny. I was just getting into the swing of my 'high horse rant about P.C. and realised this is just a mickey take on P.C. .... it is isn't it???