Your medical record

Why the NHS holds patient information
It is important that we keep information about you and your health to ensure that you receive the best possible care and treatment.  We keep this information securely and only share details where there is a genuine need.
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 GP.  The register does not contain information about your health. 

What we use it for
In addition to using your information for your care and treatment, it
may also be needed for other
reasons, such as:
• Helping staff to review the care they provide to make sure it is of the highest standard
• Training and Education (but you can chose whether or not to be involved personally)
• Research approved by the Local Research Ethics Committees
• Looking after the health of the General Public

Managing and planning for the NHS, for example:    
• Making sure that our services can meet patients’ needs in the future
• Preparing statistics on NHS performance and activity
• Investigating complaints or legal claims within the NHS
• Financial control

The sharing of some types of very sensitive personal information is strictly controlled by law.  Anyone who receives information from us is also under a legal obligation to ensure that this information remains confidential.

Wherever possible, steps are taken to ensure that when information is used for purposes other than providing healthcare, you cannot be identified as an individual, unless this is absolutely necessary.

The Common Law Duty of Confidence says:  “Information given or received in confidence, obtained for one purpose, must not be disclosed or used for another purpose without the consent of the provider of the information.”

Everyone working for or with the NHS has a legal duty to keep patient information secure and confidential and processes information in accordance with the NHS Care Records Guarantee. 

You have a right to request access to your health records. If you agree, your relatives or carers may be kept up to date with the progress of your treatment.

For further information ask the person in charge of your care or contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) if you would like to make a formal request.

Organisations such as Social Services and the Benefits Agency may require medical reports about you from time to time.  Failure to co-operate with these agencies can lead to patients’ loss of benefit or other support.  However, if you have not given your signed consent we will not normally disclose information about you.

Your rights of access and confidentiality
The Data Protection Act 1998 and the NHS Care Records Guarantee provide laws and guidance on keeping Patient Identifiable information, in all forms, confidential.  Business information which does not include personal data is covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

The Freedom of Information Act makes most non-personal information produced within the NHS available for request to the general public.  Information can also be obtained through the organisation’s Publication Scheme.  Each Publication Scheme details the types of information which is available, and how to gain access to this information.  Full details of the Publication Scheme are available through our website.