Under the Data Protection Act 1998, we are required to keep your health records safe and confidential. Every member of staff working for, or with the NHS, has a duty to keep any information that they come across completely confidential.
What is the Data Protection Act?
Your health records contain information which can identify you. Under the Data Protection Act we are required to keep all records that can identify someone (for example anything that contains your name, date of birth and address) in a secure place where only authorised members of staff have access to them.
Everyone who works for the NHS, or in partnership with us, has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential. Any breach of confidentiality by a member of staff is a disciplinary offence.
How does the Data Protection Act work?
The Act works in two ways:
- It gives you the right to find out information held about you.
- It provides a framework to ensure that personal information held by us is handled properly.
How do we use your records to help you?
- The Trust staff involved in your treatment need to have accurate and up-to-date information to assess your health and provide you with care.
- A record of any treatment or care you receive in hospital will be kept in case you return for further treatment, and to assist other NHS staff who treat you in the future both in the hospital and elsewhere.
- Your records allow hospital staff to assess and investigate the type and quality of care you have received should the need arise.
How does your information help us?
- It helps us to review the care provided for you and other patients, to ensure it is of the highest quality, make sure our services can meet all patients’ needs in future and enable the production of NHS-wide statistics.
- It helps us to train healthcare professionals and support hospital research and development.
- It enables the hospital to be paid for your treatment and to support audits of NHS services and accounts.
- It supports the investigation of any incidents or issues that arise.
Sharing your information
Sometimes the Trust is required to pass on information by law, for example:
- to notify a birth
- when an infectious disease is encountered that may endanger the safety of others, such as meningitis or measles (but not HIV/AIDS)
- where a formal court order has been issued.
You may receive care from non-NHS staff (for example Social Services), with whom it is necessary to share information about you. Your information will only be made available if there is a genuine need for it. Where your consent is needed, we will contact you for permission.
The principal NHS partner organisations with which information may be shared are Strategic Health Authorities, other NHS Trusts, GP practices and the Ambulance Services. If it is necessary to pass on information about you, personal details are removed whenever possible.
Accessing your Health Record (‘a Subject Access Request’)
If you are staying in the hospital, you may ask to look at your health record folder. Your notes will be prepared for you and a qualified member of staff will talk you through the content. You should be aware that in certain circumstances your right to see some details in your health records may be limited – for example, if it would reveal third party information.
If you would like to see your health record after you leave hospital, or if you would like copies of your health record, you will need to complete the application form below and a charge of £10.00 plus 35p per photocopied sheet and £4.00 postage and packing will be made (up to a maximum charge of £50).
Should you wish to access the records of a deceased person you must be a personal representative or someone who has a legal claim arising out of the death. This is covered by the Access to Health Records Act 1990.
- Access Request Form – Deceased
- Access to Health Records – Application Form
- Access to Health Records – Information for Patients
- Access to Radiology (X-ray) – Application Form
To find out more detailed information about accessing medical records, please contact us at the address below:
Medical Records Department
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
Tyne & Wear
To obtain copies of X-rays, please contact the Radiology Medicolegal Office on 0191 569 9652.
Tel: 0191 565 6256 Ext: 41151
Fax: 0191 569 9270