Your doctor and other NHS healthcare professionals caring for you need to keep records about your health and any treatment and care you receive from the NHS. These records help to ensure that you receive the best possible care and healthcare professionals have the most accurate, up-to-date information about you, while any concerns you may have can be properly investigated.
How health records are used
Some of the information on your health record is held centrally and used for statistical purposes. Where this is the case, strict measures ensure that individual patients cannot be identified.
Where we need to use identifiable information for essential purposes, we will only ever use this information with your consent, unless the law requires us to pass on the information. We will ensure that appropriate information is available if you see another health professional or are referred to a specialist or another part of the NHS.
Who information is shared with
We may share information with the following main partners:
- NHS hospital trusts and other care providers
- Ambulance services
- Clinical commissioning groups
- NHS England
- NHS commissioning support units
- External suppliers providing healthcare services to the NHS
We may also share your information with:
- Social services
- Education services
- Local authorities
- Voluntary sector providers
- Private sector providers
- Police and judicial services
Whenever you use a health or care service, such as attending Accident & Emergency or using Community Care services, important information about you is collected in a patient record for that service. Collecting this information helps to ensure you get the best possible care and treatment.
The information collected about you when you use these services can also be used and provided to other organisations for purposes beyond your individual care, for instance to help with:
- improving the quality and standards of care provided
- research into the development of new treatments
- preventing illness and diseases
- monitoring safety
- planning services
This may only take place when there is a clear legal basis to use this information. All these uses help to provide better health and care for you, your family and future generations. Confidential patient information about your health and care is only used like this where allowed by law.
Most of the time, anonymised data is used for research and planning so that you cannot be identified in which case your confidential patient information isn’t needed.
To find out more or to register your choice to opt out, please visit www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters. On this web page you will:
- See what is meant by confidential patient information
- Find examples of when confidential patient information is used for individual care and examples of when it is used for purposes beyond individual care
- Find out more about the benefits of sharing data
- Understand more about who uses the data
- Find out how your data is protected
- Be able to access the system to view, set or change your opt-out setting
- Find the contact telephone number if you want to know any more or to set/change your opt-out by phone
- See the situations where the opt-out will not apply
You can also find out more about how patient information is used at:
https://www.hra.nhs.uk/information-about-patients/ (which covers health and care research); and
https://understandingpatientdata.org.uk/what-you-need-know (which covers how and why patient information is used, the safeguards and how decisions are made)
You can change your mind about your choice at any time.
Under the Data Protection Act (1998) all staff working for the NHS have a legal duty to keep personal information confidential. We never disclose your information to any third party without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as when the health and safety of others is at risk or it is required by law). Anyone who receives information from us is legally bound to keep it confidential.
Access to your health records
If you want to view your health records, you may not need to make a formal application. Healthcare professionals can informally show you your own records, and you can make an informal request during a consultation or by phoning the surgery.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have a legal right to apply for access to health information held about you, and you don’t have to give a reason.
You should submit your request in writing or by email to your GP, and we will then decide whether your request can be approved. A request can be refused if, for example, it is believed that releasing the information may cause serious harm to your physical or mental health or that of another person.
Under the Data Protection Act, requests for access to records should be met within 40 days. However, government guidance for healthcare organisations says they should aim to respond within 21 days.
Fair processing and privacy notice
Click here to read our practice fair processing and privacy notice