Everyone working for the NHS is subject to the Common Law Duty of Confidence.
Information provided in confidence will only be used for the purposes advised and consented to by the patient, except in circumstances where the law requires or allows the Trust to act otherwise.
Under the Confidentiality Code of Conduct, all Trust staff are required to protect patient information, to keep patients informed of how their information will be used, and to allow patients to decide about how their information can be shared.
Access to information is restricted to those who have a need-to-know. Within the Trust, your information may be shared with the following people when there is a medical need:
- Doctors, nurses and therapists directly caring for you
- Health care assistants and therapy assistants, supporting your direct care and part of your care team
- Pharmacists, radiologists and other clinical support services
- Secretaries, receptionists, Patient Access Centre and other clerical support teams, who require access to carry out administrative tasks, such as booking appointments, typing letters or managing services
Patient information may be shared, for the purposes of providing direct patient care, with other NHS 'provider' organisations, such as NHS Acute Trusts (hospitals), NHS Community Health (primary care), NHS general practitioners (GPs), NHS ambulance services etc.
In such cases, the shared data must always identify the patient for safety reasons.
The Trust shares patient information with a range of organisations or individuals for a variety of lawful purposes, including:
- Disclosure to GPs and other NHS staff for the purposes of providing direct care and treatment to the patient, including administration;
- Disclosure to social workers or to other non-NHS staff involved in providing healthcare;
- Disclosure to specialist organisations for the purposes of clinical auditing;
- Disclosure to those with parental responsibility for patients, including guardians;
- Disclosure to carers without parental responsibility (subject to explicit consent);
- Disclosure to medical researchers for research purposes (subject to explicit consent, unless the data is anonymous);
- Disclosure to NHS managers and the Department of Health for the purposes of planning, commissioning, managing and auditing healthcare services;
- Disclosure to bodies with statutory investigative powers - e.g. the Care Quality Commission, the GMC, the Audit Commission, the Health Service Ombudsman;
- Disclosure to National Generic Registries - e.g. the UK Association of Cancer Registries;
- Disclosure, where necessary and appropriate, to non-statutory investigations - e.g. Members of Parliament;
- Disclosure, where necessary and appropriate, to government departments other than the Department of Health;
- Disclosure to solicitors, to the police, to the courts (including a Coroner's Court), and to tribunals and enquiries;
- Disclosure to the media (normally the minimum necessary disclosure subject to explicit consent)