What you need to know
This page explains why information is collected about you and the way in which this information may be used.
Why we collect information about you
Your doctor and other health professionals 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 service from us. They may be written down (manual records), or held on a computer. The records may include:
basic details about you, such as address and next of kin
- contacts we have had with you, such as clinic visits
notes and reports about your health and any treatment and care you need
details and records about the treatment and care you receive
results of investigations, such as x-rays and laboratory tests
relevant information from other health professionals, relatives or those who care for you and know you well
How your records are used to help you
Your records are used to guide and administer the care you receive to ensure:
- your Doctor, Nurse or any other
healthcare professionals 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
- full information is available should you see another
doctor, or be 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:
- look after the health of the general public
- pay your GP, Dentist and Hospital for the care they provide
- audit NHS accounts and services
- investigate complaints, legal claims or untoward incidents
- make sure our services can meet patient needs in the future
- prepare statistics on NHS performance
- review the care we provide to ensure it is of the highest standard
- teach and train healthcare professionals
- conduct health research and development
Some of this information will be held centrally, but where this is used for statistical purposes stringent measures are taken to ensure that individual patients cannot be identified. Anonymous statistical information may also be passed to organisations with a legitimate interest, including universities, community safety units and research institutions.
Where it is not possible to use anonymised information, personally identifiable information may be used for essential NHS purposes. These may include research and auditing services. This will only be done with your consent, unless the law requires information to be passed on to improve public health.
How we keep your records
Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential.
You may be receiving care from other organisations as well as the NHS (like Social Services). We may need to share some information about you so we can all work together for your benefit.
We will only ever use or 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 or safety of others is at risk or where the law requires information to be passed on.
Anyone who receives information from us is also under a legal duty to keep it confidential.
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 (but not HIV/AIDS)
- where a formal court order has been issued
Our guiding principle is that we are holding your records in strict confidence
How you can get access to your own health records
The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to find out what information about you is held on 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 organisations 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. You should also be aware that in certain circumstances your right to see some details in your health records may be limited in your own interest or for other reasons.
Who are our partner organisations?
The principal partner organisations, with whom information may be shared:
- Health Authorities
- NHS Trusts
- Primary Care Trusts
- General Practitioners (GPs)
- Ambulance Services
Your information may also, subject to strict agreements describing how it will be used, be shared with:
- NHS Common Services Agencies such as Primary Care Support Services
- Social Services
- Education Services
- Local Authorities
- Voluntary or Private Sector Providers