Your health records contains facts about your health, including:
- Treatments and test results
- The professional opinions of the staff caring for you.
These are used by staff to ensure they can offer you good care and treatment. Your records will only be used by staff treating you or administration staff who may book your appointments.
When you require care it is often the case that several organisations will be involved in providing it.
To enable this to happen smoothly, information about you is shared between the staff in the organisations caring for you.
The NHS works with many partner agencies such as Social Services, Education, Housing and the voluntary sector.
Staff should discuss with you, what information they are sharing and why. You can always ask if you have any concerns.
Sometimes it may be very important for your information to be shared in order to prevent you or someone else coming to harm.
We only share information in such situations where we have either spoken to you, or where it is vital to do so quickly, and we are unable to talk to you.
There are also a few laws that require the NHS to share information such as child protection cases, controlling infectious disease and protecting vulnerable individuals.
In addition to providing the care you need, the NHS uses information for a number of other important activities such as research, quality monitoring and developing services.
When information is used for these activities we will remove your name and address.
We may use a reference number, such as your NHS number, instead so you are not identified.
You may be invited to participate in research studies.
All research is approved by a 'Research Ethics Committee' before it can start and there are detailed checks over how patient information will be handled.
Details about your health will not be passed to researchers unless you choose to take part.
All staff receive training and regular updates about how to handle your information.
They are all bound by a legal duty to keep information confidential.
Information about you stored on any media is subject to very strict security controls.
Regular security audits of computer systems and procedures to collect and store data take place to ensure that everything is working well.