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Home > Pharmacy Law and Ethics > Patient Confidentiality and Health Records

Patient Confidentiality and Health Records

Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice

This document is a guide to required practice for those who work within or under contract to NHS organisations concerning confidentiality and patients’ consent to the use of their health records.

Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice
Supplementary Guidance: Public Interest Disclosures

This document expands upon the principles set out with the Department of Health's key guidance Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice. The document is aimed at aiding staff in making difficult decisions about when disclosures of confidential information may be justified in the public interest.

Source: webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk and gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance and Supplementary Guidance
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General Pharmaceutical Council Guidance On Patient Confidentiality

This document gives guidance to pharmacy professionals on how to meet the standards on confidentiality.

Source: pharmacyregulation.org
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance
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Data Protection Act 1998

Source: legislation.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Act
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The Guide to Data Protection
Information Commissioner's Office

The principles of the Data Protection Act in detail

This Guide explains the purpose and effect of each principle, and gives practical examples to illustrate how the principles apply in practice. We hope that, by answering many frequently asked questions about data protection, the Guide will prove a useful source of practical advice to those who have day-to-day responsibility for data protection.

Source: ico.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance
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Guidance for Access to Health Records Requests

DH guidance on access to health records for both living and deceased individuals.

Source: webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance
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Access to Health Records Act 1990

Source: legislation.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Act
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Access to Medical Reports Act 1988

Source: legislation.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Act
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Subject access code of practice
Information Commissioner’s Office

Your patients have rights to see their personal information. They can make a subject access request to see the personal information you hold about them.

Source: ico.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Code of Practice
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The ACCESS AWARE toolkit

ACCESS AWARE toolkit – ready for you to download and use within your organisation.

The ACCESS AWARE campaign has been designed to remind staff to be ‘access aware’ – acting as an easy to understand expression of the right to access personal information - helping prompt colleagues to recognise a request for personal information, and know how to deal with it.

Source: ico.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Toolkit
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Access to health records
Guidance for health professionals in the United Kingdom
British Medical Association

Health professionals often receive requests from people who wish to view or obtain copies of their own health records or those of others. Sometimes these requests come directly from the patient and at other times the requests may be from third parties such as solicitors. Health professionals may also receive requests for access to the records of deceased patients. The purpose of this guidance is to set out the circumstances in which health professionals may receive, and respond to, requests for access to health records.

Source: bma.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance
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Access to medical reports
Guidance from the British Medical Association Medical Ethics Department

Patients have the right to see reports written about them by a doctor with whom they have a normal doctor-patient relationship. We guide you through the consent process, advise you on patients' rights and outline your duties plus those of insurance companies or employers who are seeking the reports.

Source: bma.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance
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Recommendations for retention of pharmacy records

To ensure that information on retention and storage of pharmacy records and documents is current, the East of England Senior Pharmacy Managers Network have again reviewed and updated their recommendations. The recommendations in the table are the result of the review process. They are intended as a guide based on the best available evidence at the time of publication. Acute Trust pharmacy managers must discuss these recommendations with their clinical governance managers and the Trust solicitors before putting them into practice. Community pharmacy managers should discuss application of the relevant recommendations with the superintendent of their employing organisation, local Primary Care Trust (PCT) senior pharmacist or PCT clinical governance lead.

Source: evidence.nhs.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Recommendations
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Confidentiality and disclosure of health information tool kit
British Medical Association

Most enquiries from members are about confidentiality and disclosure of health care information. You know your traditional obligations to protect confidentiality, but you also recognise that increasingly complex dilemmas arise from that duty.

You are also being subject to an ever-growing list of demands to disclose information to third parties such as insurers, the police, social workers, the DVLA and the relatives of deceased patients.

Our tool kit can't give you definitive answers for every situation but it identify the key factors you need to take into account when you make decisions around confidentiality.

It is made up of 16 cards covering specific areas of confidentiality relating to children, adults who lack capacity and the deceased as well as the secondary uses of information.

Source: bma.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Toolkit
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The Care Record Guarantee

The NHS Care Record Guarantee for England sets out the rules that govern how patient information is used in the NHS and what control the patient can have over this. It covers people's access to their own records; controls on others' access; how access will be monitored and policed; options people have to further limit access; access in an emergency; and what happens when someone cannot make decisions for themselves.

Source: hscic.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Publication
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Information: To share or not to share? The Information Governance Review

Following a request from the Secretary of State for Health, Dame Fiona Caldicott carried out this independent review of information sharing to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between the protection of patient information and the use and sharing of information to improve patient care.

Source: gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Review
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Information: To share or not to share? Government Response to the Caldicott Review

The government accepts all the recommendations of the Caldicott report and highlights that while information sharing is essential to provide good care for everyone, there are rules that must be followed.

The ambitions of this response are that:

  • everyone will feel confident that information about their health and care is secure, protected and shared appropriately when that is in their interest
  • people will be better informed about how their information is used and shared while they are receiving care, including how it could be used in anonymised form for research, for public health and to create better services
  • if people don’t want their information to be shared in this way, they will know how to object if they want to
  • people will be increasingly able to access their own health and care records
Source: gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Response
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The Caldicott Guardian Manual 2010

The manual, which is a DH publication, is guidance that takes account of developments in information management in the NHS and in Councils with Social Care responsibilities since the publication of the Caldicott report. It sets out the role of the Caldicott Guardian within an organisational Caldicott/confidentiality function as a part of broader Information Governance.

Source: hscic.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Manual
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Think privacy toolkit

The TH!NK PRIVACY campaign has been created to aid the communication of the challenge faced by organisations of all sizes, to their employees – reminding staff to ‘press the mental pause button’ before taking action.

TH!NK PRIVACY offers a range of free downloadable materials including posters, bin stickers and postcards, for use within your organisation. You can print them off for use in employee areas.

Source: ico.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Toolkit
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PSNC briefing on confidentiality, data protection and human rights

As part of the clinical governance requirement in the NHS pharmacy contract, staff and employees need to comply with legal obligations on data protection and confidentiality, including the Human Rights Act.

Source: psnc.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Briefing
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Confidentiality and Data Protection staff declaration

Source: psnc.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Template
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Pharmacy template: Staff Confidentiality Agreement

Source: igt.hscic.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Template
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Information Governance : PSNC

All NHS providers, including community pharmacies need to provide information governance assurances to the NHS on an annual basis.

Source: psnc.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Various
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A Guide to Confidentiality in your Pharmacy

All staff who have access to patient information must comply with the company's policies and procedures on the handling of this information.

Source: dudley.nhs.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guide
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Pharmacy template: Confidentiality Code of Conduct

This code sets out the standards expected of staff in maintaining the confidentiality of patient information.

Source: igt.hscic.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Template
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Pharmacy template: Compliance Checklist

Source: igt.hscic.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Checklist
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Pharmacy template: Data Handling Procedure

This document outlines the procedures that should be followed where sensitive or person identifiable information is being transferred to or from the pharmacy. These procedures are in place to help prevent unauthorised access to information, loss of information, unauthorised disclosure of information or breach of legislation. These procedures apply to all staff working in the pharmacy, not just those staff working in the Dispensary.

Source: igt.hscic.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Template
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Pharmacy template: Data Flow Risk Register

Source: igt.hscic.gov.uk
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Medical records of the deceased

Health organisations often get freedom of information requests relating to the medical records of the deceased. There are no special exemptions under the Act about the deceased, but you do need to consider whether the information is sensitive.

Source: ico.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance
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Service Standards on Confidentiality

Published by the Clinical Standards Committee

Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Source: fsrh.org
Pharmacy Resource: Standards
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Best practice guidance for doctors and other health professionals on the provision of advice and treatment to young people under 16 on contraception, sexual and reproductive health

Doctors and health professionals have a duty of care and a duty of confidentiality to all patients, including under 16s.

This guidance applies to the provision of advice and treatment on contraception, sexual and reproductive health, including abortion.

Potential Q&As

All young people under 16 have a right to confidential advice from health professionals about sexual health/STIs, contraception and relationships.

Source: webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Guidance and Q&As
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Under 16s: consent and confidentiality in sexual health services

Consent from parents is not legally necessary, although the involvement of parents is encouraged. (A parent is someone with legal parental responsibility. This is not always a biological parent.)

Young people are owed the same duties of care and confidentiality as adults. Confidentiality may only be broken when the health, safety or welfare of the young person, or others, would otherwise be at grave risk.

Source: fpa.org.uk
Pharmacy Resource: Factsheet
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