Quality and conduct

229872IMPORTANT PLEASE READ – Access to Patient’s Information

Use of patient information to provide better care

Information in medical records can be used to improve the way health care is delivered. You may have heard of some changes within the health service with regards to the way patient information is utilised, please find details below.

What’s changing?
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) www.hscic.gov.uk is working with NHS England to introduce a new data extraction system, called ‘CARE.DATA’, which will allow sharing of some aspects of patients’ medical records. By linking information from the different places you receive care; the NHS can improve the services offered. Your postcode or NHS number (not your name) will be used to link your records in a highly secure system, so your identity is protected.

What we record at Our Practice
Healthcare professionals in our practice record information about the care we provide. The type of information that is recorded includes the following;

  • Demographics, e.g. address, telephone number, e-mail, date of birth, gender, etc.
  • What you tell us when you see us in consultations e.g. about your physical and psychological health and social circumstances
  • Diagnoses, investigations, treatments, referrals, family background
  • Social information e.g. housing status, alcohol, smoking data
  • Third party sources e.g. hospital letters, A&E attendances, relatives, carers, insurance companies, solicitors.

What we already share about you:
We share different types of information about our patients. These include:

  • Personal information about you and your illness, when needed for your direct care, e.g. referral to hospital consultants, district nurses, health visitors, midwives, counsellors, the summary care record
  • Patient identifiable information to public health, in order to arrange programs for childhood immunisations, communicable diseases, cervical smears and retinal screening etc.
  • With explicit consent, personal information to other organisations outside the NHS, e.g. insurance companies, benefits agencies.
  • Limited information about you, if relevant, to protect you and others, e.g. to social services child protection investigations
  • Under certain acts of parliament to protect you and others e.g. court order
  • Summary information which is anonymised (cannot identify you) e.g. Quality and Outcome Frameworks (QoF), medical research and clinical audit.

It is also important to understand that currently a limited amount of patient information or data is used mostly at local level to help design health services or undertake clinical audit. Some information is used at a national level. Information from lots of individual patients allows the NHS to build a picture of what is happening to the nation’s health. The majority of this information is anonymised before it leaves the healthcare professional, in other words no one can identify who the information relates to.

What’s changing?
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) www.hscic.gov.uk is working with NHS England to introduce a new data extraction system, called care.data, which will allow sharing of some aspects of patients’ medical records. By linking information from the different places you receive care; the NHS can improve the services offered. Your postcode or NHS number (not your name) will be used to link your records in a highly secure system, so your identity is protected.

Why are these changes needed?
These changes will allow us to improve the way health care is delivered by providing a complete picture of the service.

For example, a group of patients could have the same operation but receive different aftercare. Those planning health services can look at which aftercare worked best so that all future patients can benefit from these experiences.

The changes will deliver an effective system for collecting, analysing and sharing data whilst protecting patients’ privacy and confidentiality. The system will also ensure any unacceptable standards of care are identified and therefore rectified, as soon as possible.

Are my personal details safe?
Only the minimum amount of information will be used and strict law and confidentiality rules will be followed. Please be assured that this process is completely automated and that no data will be sold or released to pharmaceutical or private companies.

How exactly does the process work?
Information will be sent from your GP practice to the HSCIC. The highly secure system will link information from your GP record to your hospital record, if you have one, to create a new linked record. Only the minimum amount of identifiable information will be used in the linking process: your date of birth, full post code, NHS number and gender (rather than your name).

The process to create the linked record will be an automated one. Your identifiable information will be deleted and a new record will be created, that does not contain any information which identifies you.

Will any research be carried out on data that does identify me?
Most researchers carry out studies using information that does not identify you. However there are limited circumstances where the law allows the HSCIC to pass on information which may identify you where there is special approval. Please visit the Health & Social Care Information Centre website at www.hscic.gov.uk for further information.

Do I have a choice?
If you are happy for your information to be shared then you do not need to do anything. However you can choose to opt out of this process by writing to your GP who will record this on your medical records thus preventing your information being shared.

You can opt out at two different stages:

  • preventing your information from leaving your GP practice
  • preventing your data from leaving the HSCIC

Please note there are some circumstances where the law does require doctors to provide some very limited information about certain things.

What you need to do?
If you are happy for NHS England to direct the HSCIC to extract, store and manage/use your personal information then you need do nothing as the information will be automatically taken from your GP’s computer systems.

If you don’t wish your information to be extracted then you MUST inform your GP practice who will then block the uploading of your identifiable and personal information to the HSCIC.

If you are happy for your information to be extracted and used by the HSCIC for anonymised reports but NOT shared by the HSCIC with other agencies or companies in identifiable format, you can ask your GP practice to add a code to your record which will alert the HSCIC not to use your information in this way.

It should be emphasised that your access to health care and the care that you receive will not be affected by either decision.

Please download and complete the form Care Data Opt Out Form to Opt Out and return this to the practice as soon as possible

I’d like more details

For further information, please refer to the ‘how information about you’ leaflet by clicking below or visit the Health & Social Care Information Centre website at HSCIC. Information can also be found at care.data

Joint Statement
Patient Information Leaflet
Patient FAQs