Legal information about record sharing

What is the legal basis for making patient records available?

The processing of personal data for the provision of direct care is supported under the Regulations in Article 6 (1)(e) ‘necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest and in the exercise of official authority’ and Article 9(2)(h) ‘necessary for the purposes of preventative or occupational medicine for the assessment of working capacity of the employee, medical diagnosis, the provision of health or social care or treatment or management of health or social care systems.’

Do staff have to ask permission to access my record?

Legally no, your patient record can be viewed and shared without your permission. The legal basis is outlined above. When the Great North Care Record was introduced, we had a ‘permission to view’ policy. That meant that every time an A&E doctor or mental health practitioner accessed your GP record, they had to ask permission. As the region has moved on and adopted the sharing of medical information – we have moved away from this model. This model becomes increasingly difficult to sustain as we extend record sharing to more services. We have talked about why we changed our policy in this blog.

What is your privacy notice?

Each organisation who accesses and makes data available on the Great North Care Record has its own privacy/fair processing notice which covers how data is shared and reflects their use of the Great North Care Record.
The Great North Care Record itself does not hold, host or share any data. However, working with information governance experts from around the region – we have produced a template statement about how data processing is facilitated by the Great North Care Record.

Can I access my joined-up care records?

If you want to find out what information a care organisation has about you, you can contact that organisation directly and request this from them.  This is known as a Subject Access Request.
To do this, go to the website of the organisation in question (your hospital, GP, care organisation etc) and look for ‘access to my record’.  Information on each individual organisation’s process will be published on the site.
Remember – joined up care records are health and care information from other organisations, displayed in one place, so that each organisation can work together to care for patients.
For more information about making a Subject Access Request visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

I am a parent/guardian or have power of attorney for 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 people 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:
  • Request that they be opted out of the Great North Care Record – contact our helpline on 0344 811 9587, email us, or visit our opt out page
  • 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.