General Data Protection Regulations

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulations and is a new piece of legislation that will supersede the Data Protection Act. It will not only apply to the UK and EU; it covers anywhere in the world in which data about EU citizens is processed.

The GDPR is similar to the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 (which the practice already complies with), but strengthens many of the DPA’s principles. The main changes are:

  • Practices must comply with subject access requests
  • Where we need your consent to process data, this consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous
  • There are new, special protections for patient data
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office must be notified within 72 hours of a data breach
  • Higher fines for data breaches – up to 20 million euros

What is ‘patient data’?

Patient data is information that relates to a single person, such as his/her diagnosis, name, age, earlier medical history etc.

What is consent?

Consent is permission from a patient – an individual’s consent is defined as “any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes by which the data subject signifies his agreement to personal data relating to him being processed.

The changes in GDPR mean that we must get explicit permission from patients when using their data. This is to protect your right to privacy, and we may ask you to provide consent to do certain things, like contact you or record certain information about you for your clinical records.

Individuals also have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.

How the NHS and care services use your information

Whenever you use a health or care service, such as attending Accident & Emergency or using Community Care services, important information about you is collected in a patient record for that service. Collecting this information helps to ensure you get the best possible care and treatment.

The information collected about you when you use these services can also be used and provided to other organisations for purposes beyond your individual care, for instance to help with:

  • improving the quality and standards of care provided
  • research into the development of new treatments
  • preventing illness and diseases
  • monitoring safety
  • planning services

This may only take place when there is a clear legal basis to use this information. All these uses help to provide better health and care for you, your family and future generations. Confidential patient information about your health and care is only used like this where allowed by law.

Most of the time, anonymised data is used for research and planning so that you cannot be identified in which case your confidential patient information isn’t needed.

You have a choice about whether you want your confidential patient information to be used in this way. If you are happy with this use of information you do not need to do anything. If you do choose to opt out your confidential patient information will still be used to support your individual care.

To find out more or to register your choice to opt out, please visit www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters.  On this web page you will:

  • See what is meant by confidential patient information
  • Find examples of when confidential patient information is used for individual care and examples of when it is used for purposes beyond individual care
  • Find out more about the benefits of sharing data
  • Understand more about who uses the data
  • Find out how your data is protected
  • Be able to access the system to view, set or change your opt-out setting
  • Find the contact telephone number if you want to know any more or to set/change your opt-out by phone
  • See the situations where the opt-out will not apply

You can also find out more about how patient information is used at:

https://www.hra.nhs.uk/information-about-patients/ (which covers health and care research); and

https://understandingpatientdata.org.uk/what-you-need-know (which covers how and why patient information is used, the safeguards and how decisions are made)

You can change your mind about your choice at any time.

Data being used or shared for purposes beyond individual care does not include your data being shared with insurance companies or used for marketing purposes and data would only be used in this way with your specific agreement.

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