The Data Protection Act 1998
As a patient registered with this practice, your data (medical records) are covered by the principles of The Data Protection Act 1998.
This means that:
• We ask you for information so that you can receive proper care and treatment.
• We keep this information, together with details of your care, because it may be needed if we see you again.
• We may use some of this information for other reasons: for example, to help us protect the health of the public generally and to help ensure the NHS runs efficiently, is able to plan for the future, train its staff, pay its bills and account for its actions. Information may also be needed to help educate tomorrow’s clinical staff and to carry out medical, and other, health research for the benefit of everyone. This information is given in statistical form and is not personally identifiable.
• Sometimes the law requires us to pass on information; for example, to notify a birth.
• The NHS Central Register for England and Wales contains basic personal details of all patients registered with a General Practitioner. The Register does not contain any clinical information.
• Information will not be given to any third party without your permission or awareness, except in cases where the law mandates disclosure.
• You have the right to refuse consent to use your data so long as there is no legal obligation for us to disclose.
• No one will look at your records without good reason. Within the practice, your data is seen by members of staff when booking appointments, dealing with repeat prescriptions, answering queries, sending referral and recall letters, and by nurses recording treatment they have given. Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential.
Applying for Access to your Medical Records
If you wish to see your medical records there are certain steps to take:
- You must apply in writing and state what it is you wish to see, eg relating to a particular episode or problem, with dates. Before the doctor can comply with the request he has to be able to identity you as the applicant, be able to locate the required information, and be sure that you are entitled to apply to see the records in question.
- Access may be withheld for the following reasons:
1. if there has not been a reasonable interval since the previous time of access.
2. if disclosure would be likely to cause serious harm to your mental or physical health, or that of any other person.
3. if disclosing the records means giving information about a third party, unless the other person consents.
- The correct fee must be paid in advance and the doctor will be able to assess the amount from the information you give in your application. The fee will be between £10 and £50, dependent on what information you require and whether you need copies.
- Once you have paid the required fee, you will be given access within 40 days.
An alternative method of securely accessing your own health records, care plans, and test results online is now available via the Patient Passport service. Further information about this free service, including how to register, is available on our web site or by telephoning the Practice and asking to speak to our Healthcare Assistant (HCA).
Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 recognises that members of the public have the right to know how public services are organised and run, how much they cost and how the decisions are made.
The FOI Act now obliges us to respond within 20 days to requests about the information that we hold that is recorded in any format and there will be a right of access to that information, with certain exceptions.
The practice manager can provide more information.