CONFIDENTIAL PATIENT INFORMATION
Confidential patient information identifies you and says something about your health care or treatment. Information that only identifies you – like your name and address – is not confidential patient information.
The NHS wants to make sure you and your family have the best care now and in the future. Your health and adult social care information supports your individual care. It also helps us to research, plan and improve health and care services in England.
Using your confidential patient information
Your confidential patient information is used in 2 different ways:
- Your individual care: Health and care professionals may use your confidential patient information to help with your treatment and care. See the sections below on “Summary Care Record” and “Sharing IN and Sharing OUT”.
- Research and planning: Confidential patient information is also used to plan and improve health and care services, and to research and develop cures for serious illnesses.
If you do not want your confidential patient information to be used for research and planning, you can opt out of this. Your confidential patient information will still be used to support your individual care.
Research: Your confidential patient information provides numerous benefits. It is used in research to find cures and better treatments for diseases like diabetes and cancer. With your data, the NHS is better able to develop and improve health and care services for the future.
Planning: Confidential patient information can also be used to plan health and care services more effectively. The NHS and local authorities can plan where they need to provide further care services more efficiently. This helps to improve health and social care for you and your family.
How your data is used
The NHS collects health data and care data from all NHS organisations, trusts and local authorities. Data is also collected from private organisations, such as private hospitals providing NHS funded care. Research bodies and organisations can request access to this data. These include:
- university researchers
- hospital researchers
- medical royal colleges
- pharmaceutical companies researching new treatments
Who can’t use your data
There are very strict rules on how your data can and cannot be used, and you have clear data rights. Access to confidential patient information will not be given for:
- marketing purposes
- insurance purposes (unless you specifically request this)
How your data is protected
Protection of your confidential patient information is taken very seriously and is looked after in accordance with good practice and the law.
All NHS organisations must provide information on the type of data they collect and how it is used. Data release registers are published by NHS Digital and Public Health England, showing records of the data they have shared with other organisations.
An opt-out will only apply to the health and care system in England. This does not apply to your health data where you have accessed health or care services outside of England, such as in Scotland and Wales.
You have a choice about whether your confidential patient information is used for research and planning, and can change your choice at any time.
Manage your choice
You may use the NHS online service, the NHS App, or request a print-and-post form, to make or change your choice at any time. You can also request assistance or make your choice using the NHS telephone service.
If you do not wish to opt out, you don’t have to do anything at all.
To find out more or to make your choice, visit www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters or download the NHS App on your smartphone or tablet. If you prefer to make your choice by phone, please call 0300 303 5678.
Summary Care Record
Today, records are kept in all the places where you receive care. These places can usually only share information from your records by letter, email, fax or phone. At times, this can slow down treatment and sometimes information can be hard to access.
Like most surgeries, we have introduced the ‘Summary Care Record’ (SCR) to improve the safety and quality of patient care. The SCR is an electronic record which will give healthcare staff easier, faster access to essential information about you, e.g. repeat prescriptions and allergies, to help provide you with safe treatment when you need care in an emergency or when your GP practice is closed.
- You can choose to have a Summary Care Record: You do not need to do anything. This will happen automatically.
- You can choose NOT to have a Summary Care Record: You need to inform us by filling in and returning an opt-out form. Please ask at reception.
Sharing IN and Sharing OUT
Our practice uses a secure electronic health records system called SystmOne. With your permission, this allows us to share your full health record with other healthcare services which provide care for you. This includes hospitals, clinics and community services.
When you ‘share your record’, you actually share the notes we have made about you into a central ‘pool’ of information about yourself:
- Sharing OUT – this controls whether your medical information recorded at a practice or clinic can be shared out into your ‘pool’ (but no-one else can see it yet)
- Sharing IN – this controls whether or not other specific healthcare staff caring for you (e.g. at GP surgery or a clinic) can view the medical information in your ‘pool’
Our system only shares information with specific healthcare providers that you nominate. Therefore, you only share what you are comfortable with, and you are totally in control of who is allowed to view the information in your pool.
Important note: You can also request that individual entries in your record be marked as ‘Private’. These are never put into your ‘pool’, even if you choose to share out.
Sharing under this system is entirely separate from sharing your information via the Summary Care Record.