Government identity system

Verify is the new system being developed by the Government Digital Service (GDS) to allow citizens to prove they are who they say they are when accessing public services

online. The scheme uses third-parties such as credit reference agency Experian, Barclays Bank or PayPal to act as ID providers and confirm a user’s identity before they are allowed to log in.

Verify identity providers check people’s identities by looking them up with credit reference agencies, or by checking their recent payment records with utilities and banks.

HSCIC said last November it would adopt the Verify identity system under its 2020 modernisation strategy, to give both patients and doctors better access to medical records.

Wilson said the strategy foresees multiple, disparate healthcare systems in a decentralised NHS, all revolving around a patient’s digital identity.

“This is going to be pretty challenging because we want [patients] to load their health information straight to doctors, but we need to do that in a way that considers privacy and consent and trust, and that information cannot be used in any underhand means,” he said.

“So we have linked up to one part of the government’s Verify service because we’ve got millions and millions of patients. We don’t want to be seen as holding all that information in one place.”

NHS would become the tenth Verify ID provider. The others, all private companies bar the Post Office, include Barclays, PayPal and US telecoms giant Verizon.

David Rennie, head of industry engagement for Verify at GDS, told the conference: “We are doing a limited pilot with the NHS. It’s a very different context, using a digital identity in central government, to using it with a health practitioner. So we need to understand what user needs are in that context.”

The government expects nearly 700,000 people to be using its Verify identity assurance service to log in to digital public services by November 2015. The Cabinet Office is also talking to banks, insurers and retailers in an attempt to establish Verify identity assurance as a national scheme beyond just government services.

Read more about Verify

Problems surfaced when the first users tried to use Verify to prove their identities

The Cabinet Office is talking to banks, insurers and retailers to establish Verify identity assurance as a national scheme

HMRC has denied that problems faced by the public attempting to claim marriage tax breaks are caused by the Verify schem