Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential.
We will only ever use of pass on information about you if others involved in your care have a genuine need for it. We will not disclose your information to third parties without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as when the health and safety of others is at risk or where the law requires information to be passed on.
We are required by law to report certain information to the appropriate authorities. This is only provided after formal permission has been given by a qualified health professional. Occasions when we must pass on information include:
- Notification of new births
- Where we encounter infectious diseases which may endanger the safety of others such as meningitis or measles
- Where a formal court order has been issued
The Data Protection Act
The Data Protection Act 1998, which came into force on 1st March 2000, allows you to find out what information about you is held on the computer and in certain manual records. This is known as “right of subject access” it applies to your health records.
If you want to see them you should make a written request to the NHS organisation where you are being, or have been treated. You are entitled to receive a copy but should note that a charge will usually be made.
The following information explains why information is collected about you and the ways in which this information may be used.
The principal organisations, with whom information may be shared
- Health Authorities
- NHS Trust
- General Practitioners (GPs)
- Ambulance Services
- Primary Care Trusts
Why we collect information about you
Your doctor and other health professionals caring for you keep records about your health and any treatment and care you receive from the National Health Service. These help ensure that you receive the best possible care from us. They may be written down (manual records) or held on computer. The records may include
- Basic details about you, such as address and next of kin
- Contact we have had with you, such as clinic visits
- Notes and reports about your health and any treatment and care you receive
- Results of investigations, such as X-rays and laboratory tests
- Relevant information form other health professionals
How your records are used to help you
Your records are used to guide professionals in the care you receive to ensure that
- Your doctor, nurse or any other healthcare professionals involved in your care has accurate and up yo date information to assess your health and decide what care you need.
- Full information is available if you see another doctor, or are referred to a specialist or another part of the NHS
- There is a good basis for assessing the type and quality of care you have received
- Your concerns can be properly investigated if you need to complain
How your records are used to help the NHS
Your information may also be used to help us:
- Assess the need of the general population
- Make sure our services can meet patient needs in the future
- Review the care we provide to ensure it is of the highest standard
- Teach and train healthcare professionals
- Conduct health research and development
- Audit NHS accounts and services
- Prepare statistics on NHS performance.
Summary care record
Why do I need a summary care record ?
Storing information in one place makes it easier for healthcare staff to treat you in an emergency, or when your GP practice is closed.
The information could make a difference to how a doctor decides to care for you, for example which medicines they choose to prescribe for you.
Who can see it?
Only healthcare staff involved in your care can see your summary care record
How do I know if I can have one?
Over half of the population of England now have a summary care record. You can find out whether summary care records have come to your area by asking your surgery
Do I have to have one?
No, it is not compulsory. If you choose to opt out of the scheme, then you will need to complete a form that you can get from the surgery.