Data protection

Updated on 9th May 2013 at 9:54 am


Data Protection

Your doctors, their staff and everyone else working for the NHS have a legal duty to maintain the highest levels of confidentiality about patient information. In some instances, you may be receiving care from other people as well as the NHS. We may need to share some information about you with them, so that we can all work together for your benefit. Anyone who receives confidential information about you is also under a legal duty of confidence. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example, when the health or safety of others is at risk, we will not disclose your information to third parties without your permission.

We will only give your relatives, friends and carers information if you want us to.
In certain circumstances we are required by law to report information to the appropriate authorities. This information is only provided after formal authority has been given by a qualified health professional. For example:

  • notification of new births
  • where we encounter infectious diseases which may endanger the safety of others (e.g. meningitis or measles, but not HIV/AIDS)
  • where a formal court order has been issued

However, our guiding principle is that we hold your records in strict confidence.

Freedom Of Information Act 2000:

In accordance with the above Act, the practice has a publication scheme which is available to view on the following website: or from the Practice Manager.

When you register as a patient with this practice your details are passed to the Health Authority, who will update records accordingly and arrange to transfer your medical records from your previous doctor. 

In addition, other departments of the National Health Service may have access to your personal information from time to time, for example if you are receiving hospital treatment the hospital will require details of your relevant medical history.


Your Health Records

Your doctor and the team of health professionals caring for you keep records about your

health and any treatment and care you receive from the NHS. These records help make

sure you receive the best possible care.

Records may be written down (manual) or held on a computer (electronic), and 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
  • · Details and records about your treatment and care
  • · Results of investigations, such as laboratory tests, x-rays
  • · Relevant information from other health professionals, relatives or those who care for you and

know you well

Some of this information will be held centrally and used for statistical purposes. When we do this,

we take strict measures to ensure that individual patients cannot be identified. We also need to be

able to move electronic information from system to system, extracting the data and modifying it for

the next system. Tests will need to be made on the data to check that it has been transferred

correctly. Again, this is done under secure, carefully controlled conditions.

In addition, the NHS maintains a number of registers for diseases, such as cancer, to allow the

NHS to plan the services it provides. These registers are used to monitor the effectiveness of

treatments and therefore improve the outcomes for specific conditions over time. If we cannot use

anonymous information, we may use personally-identifiable information for essential NHS

purposes such as research and auditing. This information will only be used with your consent,

unless the law requires us to pass on the information to improve public health.

How do we use your records to help you?

Your records are used to guide and administer the care you receive to ensure that:

  • · Your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional involved in your care have accurate and

up-to-date information to assess your health and decide what care you need when you visit in

the future – the information may be shared in the event of an emergency situation in which you

are involved

  • · There is a good information base for health professionals to assess the type and quality of care

you have received

  • · Your concerns can be properly investigated should you need to raise a complaint

This information is to help explain why the NHS collects

information about you, and how the information could be used.

We can also ensure that full information is available if you see another doctor, or are referred to a

specialist or another part of the NHS.

How do we use your records to help others?

  • · The information in your records may be used to help protect the health of the public and to help

us manage the NHS, by:

o Making sure our services can meet patient needs in the future

o Reviewing the care we provide to ensure it is of the highest standard

o Helping to teach healthcare professionals

o Paying your GP, dentist and hospital for the care they provide

o Investigating complaints and legal claims

o Helping with health research and development

o Preparing statistics on NHS performance

o Auditing NHS accounts and services

o Auditing or administering public funds

Research projects are always approved by Local Research Ethics Committees. You will be

specifically asked to consent for any research project in which you participate.

How do we maintain the confidentiality of your records?

Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential. You

may be receiving care from other people as well as the NHS (e.g. Social Services). We may need

to share some information about you with them so we can all work together for your benefit. We

will only pass information about you to them if:

  • · They have a genuine need for it, and
  • · We have your permission to do so

Anyone who receives information from us has a legal duty to keep it confidential.

Who are our partner organisations?

We may also share information with the following:

  • · Strategic Health Authority
  • · NHS Trusts
  • · Primary Care Trusts (PCTs)
  • · Specialist Trusts
  • · Ambulance Trusts
  • · Independent Contractors such as doctors, dentists, opticians, pharmacists

We may also share your information, subject to strict agreement on how it will be used, with:

  • · Social Care Services
  • · Education Services
  • · Local Authorities
  • · Voluntary Sector Providers
  • · Private Sector Providers

What does the law require?

The law requires us to report certain information to the appropriate authorities. We do this only

after a qualified health professional has given formal permission. Occasions when we must pass

on information include:

  • · Birth of a baby
  • · Finding an infectious disease that may endanger the safety of others, such as meningitis or

measles (but not HIV/AIDS)

  • · When a formal court order has been issued

The law strictly controls the sharing of some types of very sensitive personal information. We will

not disclose your information to third parties without your permission unless there are

exceptional circumstances, such as when the health or safety of others is at risk or if the

law requires us to pass on information.

Can you access your health records?

Yes, the Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to find out what information about you is held on

computer and in certain manual records, subject to certain conditions. If you want to see your

records, you need to make a written request to the NHS organisation where you are being, or have

been, treated. In certain circumstances, your right to see some details in your health records may

be limited for your own interests or for another reason, such as the protection of others. A charge of up to £50 may be levied for copies of your health records and this must be paid before the documents are collated. The documents will normally be ready for collection within ten working days