Managing your data

Your health records

Your right to object

You have a right to object to the use of your information for any secondary purposes including sharing data to other organisations other than your own direct care.

Please note, we are not able to apply your national data opt-out to information that we hold and process locally for general activity. For this, you should follow our objection process.

Telling us about your objection

If you want to object to your information being used for any purpose other than your own direct care, you can write to our information governance department. You should enclose or attach proof of identity (such as a photocopy of your passport or other government-issued identity document).

Do not send original documents as they cannot be returned.

You can change your mind at any time by contacting us in the same way. Your objection will only apply to the information that is held by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. If you want to object to other NHS organisations using your information for healthcare improvement purposes, you should contact your GP practice, which will be able to tell you more.

How we'll use your information after you register an objection

If you register an objection with us, we will avoid using your information whenever appropriate (based on individual cases), or we will take out (anonymise) your specific details so that you cannot be identified. We will do this for all purposes other than your own direct care. For example:

  • we regularly participate in national surveys, and invite some of our patients to complete questionnaires. We would exclude your information completely from this type of survey
  • we are required to submit data on hospital attendance to a national NHS database. We must supply your information, but we make sure that you cannot be identified

We are required by law to report certain information to other public authorities, including notifications of births, deaths and infectious diseases. In these and other situations when we believe there is an overwhelming public interest, such as in a public health emergency or to prevent very serious crime, we may share your information even though you have told us not to. We have a legal duty to treat your information confidentially, and would only share it if we were sure that it was necessary.

Other ways your data might be used

There are other main areas where you can request data is not shared for purposes other than us providing your direct care.

Before you decide if you wish to use these options, please talk about the benefits of sharing with your healthcare teams. 

Please be aware that we may not be able to support your request for some specific systems that cannot technically provide this function.

National data opt-out for research and planning

The national data opt-out was introduced for the health and social care system in 2018. It's a service that allows you to opt-out of your confidential patient information being used for research and planning.

Confidential patient information is when 2 types of information from your health records are joined together. The 2 types of information are:

  • something that can identify you
  • something about your health care or treatment

For example, this can include your name and what medicine you take.

Information that only identifies you, like your name and address, is not considered to be confidential patient information and may still be used. For example, to contact you about your care or change in appointments or to ask you if you want to opt back in for an individual research study.

Information about your health or care that is anonymised so that you can no longer be identified is not considered to be confidential patient information.

The choice you make does not apply when your information is used to help with your own treatment and care.

Visit the NHS website for more information on when your choice does not apply or if you want to choose to stop your data being shared for health research and planning. You can change your national data opt-out choice at any time.

Local data sharing

We share your data locally to support the provision of your care and enable health and social care colleagues provide the best care for you.

Inter Trust data sharing

The data held in our patient electronic health record, Epic, is shared between Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This means that information held by us is shared between both trusts as part of a single record approach.

We have designed our systems to support your wishes so if you do not want to share clinical information between the two trusts, you can write to our information governance department. You should enclose or attach proof of identity (such as a photocopy of your passport or other government-issued identity document).

Do not send original documents as they cannot be returned.

London Care Record

You can object to your records being shared between services. To do this, you can speak to the person providing your care such as a GP, healthcare professional or social worker. However, it's important to know that:

  • not allowing access to your information might affect the quality of care you receive
  • only health and social care professionals involved in your care are allowed to access this information. These people view patient records to provide the best quality care they can
  • in many situations, it's necessary to share information between services to deliver care

There may be circumstances where an objection by a patient may not be upheld. This could include the following.

  • If it's in the public interest for the information to be shared. For example, if there is a safeguarding issue, or in the case of an individual who might be at risk from harming themselves or a member of the public.
  • If clinical care cannot be provided. For example, GPs providing appointments at the weekend need access to your GP record to provide you with safe effective care. In this instance, you may choose not to have the appointment. 

If an objection is not upheld this will be communicated to you, including the reason for the request not being upheld and the details of how to complain to the Information Commissioners Office.

Requesting your information

You have a right to see the information that we hold about you.

If you would like to see your health records you can ask the clinician who is treating you, or another member of staff.

If you do not understand parts of it, they will be able to explain it.

Apply for your health records

Please complete an application form if you would like a copy of:

  • your health records
  • the health records for another living person
  • the health records for someone who has died

Please email or post the form to us.

  • Address: Information governance, St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH
  • Email: [email protected]

Where we process data about you, you can request to receive a copy of the data free of charge. In some circumstances a fee may be charged, for example if repeated requests are made.

There is separate guidance for accessing your medical records at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals.

Delays to requests for your information

Please note, at this time, it's likely that responses to requests for information or records will be delayed and it may take up to 3 months to respond to a subject access request.

We may not be able to provide copies of paper health records and are still experiencing difficulties with requests that require the ability to print or copy health records to complete access requests.

We'll do our best to process requests in a timely fashion and are trying hard to return to a normal service but still expect there will be delays dealing with requests that require health records or any other content to be printed and scanned.

We apologise for this in advance, and will provide you with an update as soon as we are able to.

Changing or deleting your data (Right of Rectification/Erasure)

If you think that any information in your health records is wrong, please talk first to the health professional looking after you, or contact the information governance department.

If the information is factually incorrect, we will correct it. If the information is correct, or the opinion of a health professional, you will be given an opportunity to have a statement of your views added to the record but we will not delete the entry in question.

In some cases, you may have the right to ask us to limit how we use your data, or to erase it entirely. We will consider these requests case by case including consideration of your vital interests and technical capability. Please contact the information governance department for more information.

Carers and parents

If you have health and welfare lasting power of attorney for a patient, you might be able to exercise their rights on their behalf when they are incapable of doing so themselves. If you are a carer but do not have this legal power, you should speak to the health professional treating the patient. They will be able to make a decision based on what is best for the patient, taking your views into account.

If you have parental responsibility for a child, you can only make decisions or exercise their rights on their behalf until they are mature enough to understand and make an informed decision for themselves. We will normally consider asking for direct decisions from any child aged 13 or over.

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