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What is the Great North Care Record?

The Great North Care Record is a way of sharing healthcare information across the North East and North Cumbria. Healthcare staff looking after you, can offer you better care if they know more about you.  Now your GP record can be viewed in different healthcare settings, this might include A&E, out of hours, mental health and ambulance services.

This Patient Leaflet is currently available at local GP surgeries.

When might my record be accessed?

Your record is only accessed if you are receiving treatment. This might be in A&E, out of hours, mental health or ambulance services. If you prefer for your electronic record not to be shared in this way, you can opt out of the programme.

Who accesses the Great North Care Record?

Currently A&E departments, ambulance, 111 and out of hours services can access a some information from your GP record.  Access to health information is highly protected and safely stored. Only staff who have the right level of clearance are allowed to access your health record and their access is fully audited.

Work is beginning to provide a view of more of your record from across NHS and social care organisations, as it is currently difficult to share information from hospital records.

How does the Great North Care Record benefit me as a patient?

Historically, each organisation involved in your care such holds small pieces of information about you, but no one has an overall picture.  This is one reason why healthcare staff often ask you the same questions, or repeat the same tests.

In the future, with the Great North Care Record, the team treating you will have access to information from different organisations. This gives health and care staff a broader picture of your medical history.

How to opt out

Not everyone is comfortable with their information being shared in this way.  We have made it really easy to opt out of your information being shared between healthcare practitioners. Visit our Opt out page to find out more.

Opting out is your choice. This project is separate to other information sharing projects such as the Summary Care Record and TPP SystmOne sharing. You need to opt out of each project individually. Opting out of the Great North Care Record only prevents your information being shared locally.

What do staff in our region think about the Great North Care Record?

Dr Jay Vasani – a Consultant Gastroenterologist and Chief Clinical Information Officer at North Tees and Hartlepool. In this video, he shares his view on how his trust can provide better, safer care.

Local GP Dr Mark Dornan who explains how better sharing of information has helped one patient.

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 healthcare records, contact your GP.

To discuss receiving information in other formats (e.g. other languages, Braille, audio and large print),you can speak to Patient Advice and Liaison Services on Freephone 0800 015 1548. We are developing new digital tools to allow you to access your hospital records.

How do you prevent the information in my record 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 information in the Great North Care Record. 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. Access to your healthcare records is audited.

When can healthcare data be shared?

Although extremely rare, there are times when information in your records can be passed on.  These apply to existing electronic and paper systems.

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 needs to be clear evidence, rather than a suspicion, before any details could be passed on.
  • The General Medical Council has guidance for clinical staff about disclosing information. This is to protect individuals or society from the risk of serious harm, such as serious communicable diseases or serious crime.
  • NHS Digital 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 website.

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 is 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. This is usually based on 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?

If you are a guardian, carer or have power of attorney, you will have two choices:

  1. Request that they be opted out of sharing – the patient leaflet explains how to do this
  2. 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 is considered by the patient’s GP. The GP would make the final decision in the patient’s best interests.

Note on Lasting Power of Attorney

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) 1.) property and affairs (including financial matters) and 2.) health and care (including healthcare and consent to medical treatment). An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.

Attorneys must meet the requirements set out in the Mental Capacity Act. The Code of Practice states that, most importantly, they must follow the statutory principles (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/9/section/1). They must make decisions in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity to make that specific decision.

Sometimes it may be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for more difficult decisions. This could be where disagreements can’t be resolved, or where ongoing decisions need to be made.

The Court of Protection is the specialist Court which was established under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It deals with issues relating to people who lack capacity to make specific decisions for them. The Court can make decisions on whether people have capacity in relation to particular decisions and make decisions on their behalf. It can also appoint or remove people who make decisions on people’s behalf, and make decisions relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney or Enduring Powers of Attorney. See https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/looking-after-people/managing-affairs-for-someone-else/#h-lasting-power-of-attorney for more information.