Under Confidentiality in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities, you have a right to:
- have your information stored securely
- access your health information
- know how the NHS uses your information
- know how the NHS shares your information
- object to the NHS using your information
How your information is stored
The NHS stores your information securely in paper records and on computers.
If you have used any NHS services, there will be records stored:
- at your GP practice
- at any hospital you've attended
- at your dental practice
The NHS is storing more and more of your personal health information on computers and eventually all of your records may be held in this way. This will make it easier for staff to share information about you.
All NHS staff have a legal duty to keep information about you confidential.
How the NHS uses your information
If you want to see, or get a copy of your health records, you will need to write to the:
- practice manager at your GP practice
- records manager at the hospital
- NHS organisation that holds your health records.
Find out more about how to access your health records
Patient identifiable information
Sometimes the NHS uses information that does identify you (for example to include in a disease register). NHS staff will usually explain this to you before going ahead.
The NHS must seek permission before sharing patient identifiable information with:
- insurance companies
- the media
Sharing your information
When using NHS services, your information may be shared with other people that need to know about your health in order to give you the right care and treatment.
This information will only be shared if you give consent.
More on how to give consent for your information to be shared
Sharing without your permission
The NHS will only share information without your permission if:
- you are a child, and your doctor doesn’t think you can make decisions about your health care
- you are an adult who cannot make decisions for yourself, or cannot tell others your decisions
If you cannot make decisions, the law allows someone to see your records and discuss your care if:
- you have given them a welfare power of attorney
- a court has given them a welfare guardianship or a welfare intervention order
In these cases, the person allowed to see your health information:
- will only be able to see information necessary for them to make decisions about your care
- will not receive information that may be harmful to your health or the health of others
Objections and complaints
If you are unhappy about how your health information has been kept or used, you should first talk to a member of NHS staff involved in your care.
If you are still unhappy, you have a right to make a complaint.
More on how to give feedback or make a complaint