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Practice Policies

Locked blue folderConfidentiality and Access to Records

We make every effort to ensure that information about you is not given to other people without your permission. 

If you do not wish close members of your family to ask for test results on your behalf, or to collect repeat prescriptions for you, please let us know.

We consider the NHS Model Policy for primary care confidentiality to be best practice and we endeavour as far as is reasonably practical to act in accordance with the NHS model.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 obliges the practice to produce a Publication Scheme. A Publication Scheme is a guide to the 'classes' of information the practice intends to routinely make available. 

For further information about the scheme click here.

How We Use Your Information

This page briefly explains why Garswood surgery collects information about you, and how that information may be used.

The health care professionals who provide you with care maintain records about your health and any treatment or care you have received previously (e.g. NHS Trust, GP Surgery, Walk-in clinic, etc.). These records help to provide you with the best possible healthcare.

Records may be held in electronic or manual (written down) format, and may include the following information;

  • Details about you, such as address and next of kin
  • Any contact the surgery has had with you, such as appointments, clinic visits, emergency appointments, etc.
  • Notes and reports about your health
  • Details about your treatment and care
  • Results of investigations, such as laboratory tests, x-rays, etc.
  • Relevant information from other health professionals, relatives or those who care for you and know you well

To ensure you receive the best possible care, your records are used to facilitate the care you receive. Information held about you may be used to help protect the health of the public and to help us manage the NHS. Information may be used for clinical audit to monitor the quality of the service provided. Where we do this, we take strict measures to ensure that individual patients cannot be identified.

Some of this information will be held centrally and used for statistical purposes. Where we do this, we take strict measures to ensure that individual patients cannot be identified.

Certain health care data held on GP computer systems may be extracted for use by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). In essence, under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, NHS England has developed a new service, which aims to allow better use of good quality data to help inform both treatment and commissioning decisions. 

Whilst personal confidential data will be extracted from GP practice systems, only aggregated or pseudonymised data will be shared.  We cannot interfere with the extraction of data, however, individual patients can elect to withhold consent to the extraction of or use of their data by the HSCIC.

The data will enable the NHS to enhance patient care. To find out more please click here to download the patient information leaflet 'How information about you helps us to provide better care'. Please let us know if you do not want anonymised date about you to be extracted by this service.

Sometimes your information may be requested to be used for research purposes – the surgery will always endeavour to gain your consent before releasing the information.

Should you have any concerns about how your information is managed at the surgery please contact the Practice Manager to discuss how the disclosure of your personal information can be limited.

How do we maintain the confidentiality of your records?

Every member of staff who works for an NHS organisation has a legal obligation to keep information about you confidential. Anyone who receives information from an NHS organisation has a legal duty to keep it confidential.

We maintain our duty of confidentiality to you at all times. We will only ever use or pass on information about you if others involved in your care have a genuine need for it. We will not disclose your information to any third party without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances (i.e. life or death situations), or where the law requires information to be passed on.

Who are our partner organisations?

We may also have to share your information, subject to strict agreements on how it will be used, with the following organisations;

  • NHS Trusts
  • Specialist Trusts
  • Independent Contractors such as dentists, opticians, pharmacists
  • Private Sector Providers
  • Voluntary Sector Providers
  • Ambulance Trusts
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Social Care Services
  • Local Authorities
  • Education Services
  • Fire and Rescue Services
  • Police
  • Other ‘data processors’
Access to your Information

You have a right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to access/view what information the surgery holds about you, and to have it amended or removed should it be inaccurate. This is known as ‘the right of subject access’. If you would like to make a ‘subject access request’, please contact the practice manager in writing.

If you would like further information about how we use your information, or if you do not want us to use your information in this way, please contact the Practice Manager.

Medical Records

Your medical record card is a life long history of any consultations, treatment, investigations, etc that you have had with your doctor since birth. It follows you around wherever you live in the UK and for that reason you should always let us know of any change of circumstances so that we can ensure that the information we hold about you is accurate. 

Even though these days most surgeries use computers, the information held on computer is printed out and a copy placed into your medical record card should you move to another doctor. 

Your Right to Privacy

You have a right to keep personal information confidential between you and your doctor. This applies to everyone over the age of 16 and in certain cases those under 16, however, in order look after you properly we normally share some information about you with others involved in your care, unless you ask us not to. This could include doctors, nurses or others involved in the treatment or investigation of your medical problems.

Because we are a teaching practice, involved in the training of medical students and GP registrars, if you see a registrar or medical student during a consultation, they would be allowed access to your medical record. 

The practice staff also have access to medical records. They need to perform tasks such as filing of letters, processing repeat prescriptions and provide information about blood tests, etc.

Everyone working for the NHS has a legal duty to keep information about you confidential. 

Where Else Do We Send Patient Records?

We are required by law to notify the Government of certain infectious diseases for public health reasons, eg meningitis, mumps, salmonella and other similar infections (but not AIDS).

Doctors cannot refuse to co-operate with a Court of Law without risk of serious punishment.

Solicitors ask for sight of medical records, however, in every such instance, the request will be accompanied by your signed consent. A Solicitor would usually need sight of your entire medical record since limiting access usually means he is unable to fully represent your case. If you do not want to grant full access, you can ask that the records be supplied between two relevant dates rather than allowing a solicitor unrestricted access. 

Insurance Companies ask for medical reports on prospective or current clients. Similarly, prospective employers may also wish to investigate your medical history before confirming your appointment to a job. Your signed consent will always accompany such requests. GPs must disclose all relevant medical conditions unless you ask us not to, however, we would then have to inform the requestor that you have instructed us not to make a full disclosure to them, You have the right to see such reports before they are sent, however, if you elect to exercise that right but then do not attend to see the report it will be dispatched to the requestor after 21 days.

Anyone who receives information from us is under a legal duty to keep it confidential.

Can I Find Out What is in My Medical Record?

We are happy for you to see what is in your medical records. If you wish to see your record please put your request in writing to the Practice Manager. We are allowed by law to charge a fee to cover administration and costs for providing you with access to your record.

We have a duty to keep your medical record accurate and up-to-date. Please inform us if you believe there is an inaccuracy in your record.

Please note: Medical records in this practice contain statements of opinion about the likely diagnosis accounting for your problem at a particular time. This diagnosis is entered in order that we can monitor the basis of our actions such as prescribing interventions, etc. Since it is an opinion expressed at the time, it is not unusual for the diagnosis in any episode to differ from it. Often when illnesses are first presented to a doctor, the range in severity of symptoms does not allow more than a tentative diagnosis.

NHS Information Security Management

Read the NHS official documentation here.

'Continuity of Care' Philosophy at Garswood Surgery

We have now been in practice here in Garswood since May 2004 and know most of our patients as individuals, ie care should be ‘personal’ to a large degree. We know this is what people want; this is what we want to deliver; and this is usually linked to important benefits in health and in other ways.

In order to make our system clearer for everyone to understand we have consulted patients and their representatives on the ‘Garswood Steering Group’. Following their suggestions we would like to explain how our appointment and other systems are designed to enhance personal, continued care.

When you contact the practice about your health, if you require an appointment with a doctor the staff will ask you to give some indication of the problem. This is to help us to direct you to the most appropriate person or service to deal with your needs. However, you do not need to tell the staff the reason and we shall always respect your wishes. The staff will also ask you which doctor you normally see and they will try to give you a timely appointment with them, although this may not always be possible owing to annual leave etc.

If the doctor asks you to make a further appointment, at the end of the consultation, this will normally be for you to see that doctor again.

Our records are available at all times for all the practice team so that we can know what has happened already [eg. any recoded drug allergies] and can continue your care in the event that you do now see the same person on a subsequent occasion.

For terminally ill patients we make particular efforts to give continued care, especially when home visits are required. We also inform ‘St.Helens Rota’ out-of-hours GP service so that they can be aware of any particular needs in case they are contacted.

Patients' Access to Medical Reports

If a patient wishes to see a medical report, this must be marked clearly by attaching a piece of paper to the report so that it is not sent off inadvertently.

When the report is ready we will contact the patient and asked to come and view the report.

When they have had the chance to read the report, they must sign a declaration on both copies of the report as follows:

'I have read the attached report of …' (enter number of pages) pages.




The report will then be sent and the copy will be retained at the surgery.

If there is something that a patient objects to, they should make a routine appointment to discuss the report with the doctor who has written it. They cannot take a copy of the report away in the meantime – ‘because the doctor wants to discuss the medical content of the report’.

Emailing Reports on Patients

We cannot offer this service since we do not know who the recipient is. 

We need written consent to provide any report that the patient will not be collecting in person themselves.

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