Care Record Guarantee
In the National Health Service in England, we aim to provide you with the highest quality of healthcare. We also aim to gain evidence that will improve health and care through research. To do this, we must keep records about you, your health and the care we have provided to you or plan to provide to you. NHS care records may be electronic, on paper or a mixture of both, and organisations use a combination of working practices and technology to keep to this guarantee. You have the right to privacy and confidentiality and to expect the NHS to keep confidential information safe and secure (the NHS Constitution for England 2010). This guarantee is our commitment that NHS organisations and those providing care on behalf of the NHS will use records about you in ways that respect your rights and promote your health and wellbeing. The Government has made it clear that patients will have control of their own health records, starting with access to the records held by their GP and extending to records held by all health providers (Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, Department of Health, 2010, paragraph 2.11). The people who care for you use your records to:
• provide a good basis for all health decisions made by you and healthcare professionals;
• allow you to work with those providing care;
• make sure your care is safe and effective; and
• work effectively with others providing you with care.
Others may also need to use records about you to:
• check the quality of care (such as a clinical audit);
• protect the health of the general public;
• keep track of NHS spending;
• manage the health service;
• help investigate any concerns or complaints you or your family have about your healthcare;
• teach healthcare professionals; and
• help with research.
The law gives you the right to:
• confidentiality under the common-law duty of confidentiality;
• protection in the way information about you is handled under the Data Protection Act 1998; and
• privacy, under the Human Rights Act 1998.
These are not ‘absolute rights’, as often an individual’s rights will need to be balanced with those of others, but they do offer considerable protection.
It also gives you the right to:
• ask for a copy of all records about you held in paper or electronic form (you may have to pay a fee); and
• choose someone to make decisions about your healthcare if you become unable to do so (this is called ‘a lasting power of attorney’).
We have a duty to:
• maintain accurate records of the care we provide to you;
• keep records about you confidential, secure and accurate (including after you die); and
• provide information in a format that is accessible to you (for example, in large type if you are partially sighted).
It is good practice for people in the NHS who provide your care to:
• discuss and agree with you what they are going to record about you;
• give you a copy of letters they are writing about you; and
• show you what they have recorded about you, if you ask.
If you have any concerns about privacy and confidentiality, or want to know more about the arrangements that local organisations have put in place to follow the commitments in the NHS Care Record Guarantee, you should check with your local NHS organisation or care provider.