INFORMATION is a priceless commodity. Companies want it and governments want it. Most of all, we want it – and when it involves private issues, we tend to want to keep it to ourselves.

This issue is at the heart of a row between a city GP and the Government over patient data being put on a central database.

Use of the statistics would improve patient health and save lives.

It is already used by hospitals – without any apparent impact on our daily lives.

But there are fears this latest scheme could compromise confidential patient information.

The row centres over whether people should have to opt out if they don’t want to take part – or opt in.

It sounds dry, it perhaps sounds a little dull – but it is an important issue.

In an age when top secret information about world leaders is leaked en masse by groups such as Wikileaks, we are right to wonder how secure anonymous information about us is on Government computers.

Stories are leaked to the press on a daily basis from documents that are supposed to be classified.

Julian Assange may have had good intentions, but not everyone who gets hold of data has the public good at heart.

Perhaps such fears are exaggerated.

That appears to be the view of most patients – given that very few people have so far opted out of the data collection scheme.

Yet if people had to agree for their information to be used, the numbers would most likely be equally low. The scheme has left many serious-minded people unhappy.

If you care, join our city GP and opt out.

If you don’t, then perhaps the Government was right after all.