You and your personal information

A guide to why we collect information about our patients and the ways in which it may be used in the NHS

This leaflet tells you what happens to the personal information held about you in our hospitals. East Kent Hospitals aims to provide you with the highest quality care. To do this, we must keep records about you and the care we provide for you.

1. Why do you need information about me?

We need to keep information about you to provide you with the best possible standards of healthcare from us. This information will include your name, address, date of birth, and details of your medical history. The records are stored both on paper and computer and may take other forms such as x-ray films and photographs. Our guiding principle is that we are holding your records in strict confidence. We will not disclose your information to third parties (including your relatives) without your consent, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Any health or social care provider who receives any of your personal information from us is also under a legal duty to keep it confidential.

2. How are my records used to help me?

Your doctor or other healthcare professionals involved in your care need accurate and up to date information to properly assess your health and decide what care you need now or in the future. Complete healthcare records are needed should you need to see another doctor, or are referred to a specialist or another part of the NHS. Your concerns can be properly investigated if you feel you need to complain.

How are my records used to help the NHS?

Treatment records kept on patients help clinical staff provide the right healthcare for each individual. Your information may also be used to help us:

Processing of data for these purposes by the NHS, as an official authority with a public duty to care for its patients, has a lawful basis under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) for the provision of health and social care and treatment of patients, along with the management of health or social care systems and services. For other purposes, your personal data can only be used with your explicit consent or by virtue of other laws or regulations.

3. Who else may see my records?

4. Can my doctor give information to my employer?

Doctors cannot give information about you to an employer without your permission. If with your agreement your doctor writes a medical report, you are entitled to see it before it is passed on, unless your doctor decides it could be harmful for you to see it. You can refuse to let your employer or insurance company see the report or you can add your own written comments.

5. Are my records kept confidential?

Everyone working in the NHS (even those working on a voluntary basis) has a legal duty to maintain the highest level of confidentiality about your personal information.

6. What if I do not want my personal information to be shared with other people or organisations?

Whenever you use a health or care service, information about you is collected in a patient record for that service. Collecting this information helps to make sure you get the best possible care and treatment.

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

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 is not 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. To find out more or to register your choice to opt out, please visit the NHS web site or the Trust's National Data Opt-Out Programme page.

If you cannot access these web sites you can:

Alternatively you can tell your doctor or a member of their team, or contact the Trust’s Data Protection Officer.

What are my rights?

Data protection laws give individuals rights in respect of the personal information that we hold about you.

Seeing my medical records

Who can apply?

You can apply to see your own records, but you can also apply:

How do I apply?

Requests need to be made to the Access to Healthcare Records Team, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital, St Peters Road, Margate CT9 4AN, telephone number 01843 234522. For more information, please go to the Access to Healthcare Records Team web page.

What will it cost?

East Kent Hospitals generally do not charge for requests for information. However, where the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive you may be charged a “reasonable fee” for the administrative costs of complying with your request.

You can also be charged a reasonable fee if you request further copies of the information following a request. This fee would be based on the administrative costs of providing further copies.

How long will it take?

We must provide a copy of your records within 28 calendar days from the receipt of your request in writing. However, should your request be complex or you make more than one, the response time may be a maximum of three calendar months, starting from the day after receipt of your original request.

How will my records be shown to me?

If you are given access, you will be sent a copy of the relevant parts of your medical records by post. If you need an explanation of any medical terms or abbreviations which are not clear to you, or entries which are difficult to read, then you may request an appointment with a member of staff to have these explained.

Can I change my records?

If you think your record is inaccurate you can ask for it to be corrected. The Trust is not obliged to accept your corrections, but a note about why you think the information is inaccurate will be added to your records. You will be sent an amended copy free of charge.

Can I be refused access to my records?

You can be refused access to records, or part of them, if:

Health records and the law

The Trust has a legal duty to keep your health records confidential, accurate, and available in accordance with data protection laws, the NHS Constitution, and common law. Information is held for the periods of time recommended by the Records Management Code of Practice for Health and Social Care 2021.

Our staff members undertake annual training to process your information correctly and protect your privacy. We aim to maintain high standards, adopt best practice for our record keeping, and regularly check and report on how we are doing.

Your information is never collected for direct marketing purposes, and is not sold on to third parties. Your information is not sent outside the United Kingdom or the European Union unless the recipient has the same level of legal responsibility as we do.

Do you want to know more?

If you have any questions about accessing your health records, please contact the Access to Health Records Team.

If you have any further questions about confidentiality, consent, or how the Trust uses your personal information, please contact the Trust’s Data Protection Officer.

Further information on you and your information and a copy of the latest Privacy Notices from the Trust can also be found on the Trust web site.