FAQs

Who is leading the initiative?

This initiative is supported by NHS organisations across the region; it is led by Connected Health Cities.  The Great North Care Record project partners are:

Foundation Trusts:

  • City Hospitals Sunderland
  • County Durham & Darlington
  • Cumbria Partnership
  • Gateshead Health
  • Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals
  • North Cumbria University Hospitals
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • North Tees & Hartlepool
  • Northumberland Tyne & Wear
  • Northumbria Healthcare
  • South Tees
  • South Tyneside

Clinical Commissioning Groups:

  • Cumbria
  • Darlington
  • Durham Dales, Easington & Sedgefield
  • Hartlepool & Stockton-On-Tees
  • Newcastle Gateshead
  • North Durham
  • North Tyneside
  • Northumberland
  • South Tees
  • South Tyneside
  • Sunderland

GP Out of Hours:

  • Northern Doctors Urgent Care (NDUC)
  • Gateshead Doctors On Call (GatDoc)

What is my Great North Care Record?

At the moment, every health care organisation holds a different set of records about you. Information in different records may be duplicated or incomplete.

Your Great North Care Record provides access for health professionals to view your electronic medical records that will over time include a range of healthcare information to help improve the care you receive in the North East.

Why do you need to share my health records?

The aim of the Great North Care Record is to support you with safer, more joined up care and to give healthcare professionals access to more accurate and consistent information across all services, in turn releasing more time to offer continuity of care for patients.  We want to ensure that with each patient’s informed consent, your information is available at the point you receive care to other NHS healthcare providers including hospitals, mental health services, out-of-hours doctors, NHS 111 and the ambulance service. Information is already shared by phone and paper records and the Great North Care Record will allow this to happen more efficiently and securely.

Can I choose who can view my Great North Care Record?

Yes. Your consent will be sought prior to your record being viewed at the point of care. We are only sharing commonly asked for information (e.g. medications you have been prescribed, test results) and have put safeguards in place so that only people directly involved in your care will have access to it. Your consent will then be recorded by NHS staff, and available for audit and review by both primary and secondary care.

Where do I give consent?

You can give consent to healthcare professionals at a range of health services where you are receiving care including Emergency Department (formerly A&E) and out-of-hours services. eg: If you fall ill and need treatment at Emergency Department (formerly A&E) the doctor or nurse may need to know more about you; including what medication you are taking or if you have any allergies. They will ask for your permission to view your Great North Care Record.

How do I know my records are kept safe?

By law, everyone working in, or on behalf of the NHS, must respect your privacy and keep all information about you safe. The Great North Care Record will be viewed via a secure and encrypted system that meets NHS security standards. The system keeps a record of everyone who has accessed a patient record, the time and date when they accessed it and the information they were viewing. The laws on data protection are clear and we take them very seriously. We regularly check to make sure that only people who need to see your patient record are viewing it.

Is record sharing happening in other parts of the country?

Yes. Patient information sharing has been successfully implemented in many areas such as Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham and Leeds.  By building on success in other areas, the local NHS wants to improve the way healthcare staff communicate using existing technology and information to deliver safer healthcare in this area.

The Great North Care Record is a local project covering the North East and North Cumbria. In the main, this means that the sharing is limited to this area, but if a patient lives on a border and has treatment in a hospital outside the North East and North Cumbria, then it makes sense for clinicians treating them to be able to see their information if they have a legitimate reason and if they have the systems to do so.

 

Who can amend or add information to my Great North Care Record?

It is a ‘view only’ system, and only shows information from your existing general practice health record within the North East.

Can anyone see my records?

Your medical records will still be confidential. They will only be looked at by people who are directly involved in your care. Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals rely on good communication with their patients – and with each other – to provide the best care possible.

We won’t share your information with anyone who doesn’t need it to provide treatment, care and support to you. Your details will be kept safe and won’t be made public, passed on to a third party who is not directly involved in your care, used for advertising or sold.

Can I access my medical records?

Yes. The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to find out what information is held about you, on computer and in certain manual records. This is known as ‘right of subject access,’ and applies to your health and social care records.  If you want to see or receive a copy of your records, speak to a member of staff at your care provider who will be able to help you.

Why is my information not shared electronically already?

Historically, different parts of the NHS have had their own paper records and information is exchanged using letters, telephone calls and faxes.

The ability to store health information digitally and provide access to it means the NHS is now starting to transform the way it handles this information.  This initiative is part of that process and we believe it will improve the quality of care you receive and reduce the amount of time spent by staff tracking down accurate, up-to-date information.

When will you start sharing this kind of information electronically?

Some areas of the North East, such as Northumberland and North Tyneside, are already live with the system. There will be a phased introduction in other parts of the region during the second half of 2016 and 2017.

What sort of information will be available?

The information we will make available will include the kind of details that different health teams are often sharing already through telephone calls, letters and faxes. All it will do is make the information available electronically in a view-only format.

The types of information include:

  • Medication and any changes to it made by a clinician
  • Medical conditions
  • Operations/treatment received
  • Contact details for next-of-kin and others involved in care
  • Tests that GPs or hospital clinicians have requested or carried out
  • Appointments (past and planned) and recent visits to the Out of Hours GP and Minor Injury Units.

At a later stage, we plan to increase sharing to include documents such as care plans and letters about treatment (for example ‘discharge summaries’ following a hospital stay).

As treatment within the NHS develops, this will allow clinicians to improve the quality of your health and care services, ensuring they are safe, effective and well managed. Details of any new developments will be published on this website.

Who will have access to my records?

Just like existing controls on healthcare information, staff will only have access if they have a legitimate reason to do so and it is directly relevant to the treatment you are receiving at the time.

We will use a secure, encrypted system which will keep a record of everyone who has viewed your record, when they accessed it, and what information they were viewing.

Access to shared care information is audited and unauthorised access by a member of NHS staff is a serious offence which would lead to disciplinary action.

Can I change my mind?

Yes.

Whether you are happy to share your information or you decide to opt out, you can change this decision at any time by contacting us at gncarerecord@nhs.net or by telephoning 0344 811 9587

Can I see my information or could someone ask to see it on my behalf?

Yes.

You have the right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to request access to any information that organisations like the NHS hold about you. This includes copies of paper and electronic records.

For more information about how to view your health care records, contact your GP.

To discuss receiving information in other formats (e.g. other languages, Braille, audio and large print), speak to Patient Advice and Liaison Services on Freephone 0800 015 1548.

Will everyone who has access be able to see all my information?

No.

Access will only be given to an agreed set of local health and care professionals and they will only be able to view information appropriate to their role (e.g. doctor, nurse, physiotherapist).

How will you prevent the information being used inappropriately?

NHS healthcare information, like all confidential patient data, will not be made public, used for advertising or sold.
The same applies to this information. Existing codes of conduct for NHS staff mean they must respect patient privacy and keep all information about patients safe.  Failure to do so would be viewed as a serious offence by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Could information be shared more widely?

The Great North Care Record initiative is working to bring together separate medical record systems, rather than creating a new system. It would provide a snapshot of records from elsewhere in the care system.

Use of this information is already governed by regulations to protect patient confidentiality. The NHS understands the importance of keeping your details safe, and takes security of confidential information very seriously.

Qualified staff are also regulated by their own professional codes of conduct which state that confidential patient data should not be accessed without an appropriate reason, made public, used for advertising or sold.

Although extremely rare, there are times when information can be passed on.  These apply to existing electronic and paper systems as well as any future developments through the Great North Care Record.

This includes:

  • Where personal data is disclosed for the purposes of crime prevention or taxation, this is exempt under the Data Protection Act 1998. This would need to be considered on a case by case basis, and the exemption only allows the disclosure, rather than requiring it.A data controller (the person who would authorise the release of any information) would, if challenged, need to justify to the Information Commissioner’s Office or a court why the information was released.There would need to be clear evidence, rather than simply a suspicion, before any details could be passed on to appropriate organisations for any further investigations.More information about how we handle information is available here.
  • The General Medical Council has guidance for clinical staff about disclosing information – to protect individuals or society from the risk of serious harm, such as serious communicable diseases or serious crime, for example.
  • The Health and Social Care Information Centre also has information about how NHS staff should handle sensitive information.
  • You are entitled to see information about you held by NHS organisations. More information is available on the NHS Choices website.

Will I be asked every time a health professional wants to view my information?

If a GP refers you to a service (for example, for a hospital appointment or an assessment), it will be assumed that you are happy for the health professional caring for you to view relevant information to help them provide the best care.

If, however, someone is seen as an emergency (in the Emergency Department or by an out-of-hours GP, for example) the clinician must ask for permission (where the patient is capable of giving it) before viewing patient information.

Can a relative who is a health professional access my information as part of their role?

Health professionals would not normally be involved in providing treatment for members of their own family.
Staff should only gain access to patient information if they are directly involved in your care or they have a legitimate reason to do so.

As with existing details, any attempts to access information inappropriately would be regarded as a serious breach of confidentiality and could be subject to disciplinary action. Access to shared information will be strictly monitored.

I am a parent/guardian or have power of attorney over someone and I don’t want their records to be made available. What do I need to do?

You can request that someone you are responsible for is opted out. This request will be considered by your GP, who will make the final decision.

While your GP will respect your views and may wish to discuss them with you, they could decide that it is right that details are shared – usually on the grounds of patient safety and providing the most appropriate care.

What about patients/clients who do not have the mental capacity to understand the Great North Care Record or the opt-out process?

Every adult patient registered with a GP in the North East or Cumbria will receive a leaflet explaining how the Great North Care Record works, and what it means for them. If you are a guardian, carer or have power of attorney, you will have two choices:

  • Request that they be opted out of sharing – the leaflet will explain how to do this
  • Allow them to be automatically opted in – if you are happy with this, you will not have to do anything further

As health professionals, we believe that better sharing of information will mean safer care, so we hope that most people will remain opted in.

If a guardian, carer or person with power of attorney requests to have someone opted out of record sharing, their request will be considered by the patient’s GP, who would make the final decision in the patient’s best interests.

NOTE

There are two types of power of attorney – one is for financial decisions, the other for health and welfare decisions (which is rare). Decisions regarding health and welfare would normally remain with a clinician or care professional, so it is worth checking which type has been granted.

If you have power of attorney regarding health and welfare, we would strongly advise you to discuss any decisions on a patient’s behalf with clinical and/or social care staff.

Are dentists and organisations delivering private medical care involved?

No. Information is currently shared with dentists and private medical care providers only with the patient’s consent, and this will continue to be the case. There are currently no plans to include dentists and private providers in the Great North Care Record initiative. Community pharmacies (also known in some areas as chemists) are not part of the project at present.