The confidentiality of patient information is maintained at all times in accordance with NHS guidelines and all staff are regularly reminded of their responsibilities in this regard.
The same standards of confidentiality are applied to information held on our computer system and, in this respect, we are registered under the Data Protection Act.
The health information you share with us is kept in your medical record, a life-long history of your health, which helps us with your future care. Your relationship with your doctor and other health workers is based on mutual trust and confidence and we do all we can to protect that trust.
Patient confidentiality underpins the structure of the NHS and is a priority. Dedicated teams of professionals make up the NHS and we will normally share your information only with others directly involved in your medical care.
We aim to keep your health record confidential and we will continue to improve this. We hope you feel confident that your information is safe. The NHS uses new technology to help deliver better patient care – health records can now be securely stored and shared electronically. NHS organisations have developed an Electronic Health Record – a way of storing your medical information electronically. This allows doctors and other health professionals to access your up to date information, whether it is from your GP practice or the hospital. This will enable doctors to make more effective decisions about your treatment and care. Some of the information contained in your health record might be used for reasons other than your own personal healthcare:
- To audit processes and practices.
- To help plan future health services.
- In health research programmes; you will be specifically asked to consent to any research project in which you participate directly.
- To help plan your ongoing care with other agencies (e.g. Health visitor, midwives, social services, school health services).
The NHS is also required to have processes in place to manage patient information (e.g. keeping and updating records) which will include your medical information. These reasons are vital to the running of the NHS. Wherever possible, the shared information will be anonymous but if you have concerns about this, you can choose not to allow the information to be used.
Who has access?
Doctors, nurses and other health professionals need access to your records. However, this is on a need-to-know basis and includes only those directly involved in your care. If you are referred to hospital, your health/medical information will need to be transferred from your GP to the hospital, and back again. Secretaries, receptionists and other clerical staff will need limited access in order to carry out administrative tasks such as typing letters and booking appointments. All staff employed by the NHS have a duty of confidence to ensure that your information is not disclosed inappropriately, and they work to a Code of Conduct for handling personal information.
Other uses for your information
- The NHS must, by law, notify the government of certain infectious diseases for public health purposes, e.g. measles, mumps, meningitis, etc. but not HIV/AIDS.
- Births and deaths must also be notified.
- A Court of Law can insist that medical information be disclosed to them.
- Limited anonymised information is also shared with Primary Care Trusts to assist with the organisation of national public health programmes, e.g. breast screening, cervical smear tests, and childhood immunisations. Your personal information will not be passed on to any organisation for monetary gain.
Can I see my medical records?
Yes – requests should be made to your GP Practice, if requesting verbally or in writing please clarify as much as possible the content and purpose of your request. The request must be satisfied within 28 days however, depending on the nature and size of the request, an extension of up to two further months can be agreed with yourself within 28 days of the initial request and,if applicable, a charge may be made. If you feel anything has been added to the record that is factually incorrect, you have the right to apply to have it amended or deleted in accordance with the guidance in the 1998 Data Protection Act. You can now also request to have on-line access to your full GP record, apply at the practice if you wish to have full access.
Can my records be withheld?
We may withhold information contained in your records deemed likely to cause harm to your mental or physical state, or that of other people. A senior clinician will make this decision. Any third party information would not be revealed without their consent.