Managing your data

Your health records

Your right to object

You have a right to object to the use of your information for any purpose other than your own direct care.

Please note, we are not able to apply your national data opt-out to information that we hold locally. 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 possible, or we will take out 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.

National data opt-out

The national data opt-out was introduced for the health and social care system in 2018. It gives people more control over how their confidential patient information is used. Find out more about confidential patient information on the NHS website.

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 two types of information from your health records are joined together.

The two 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.

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.

With very rare exceptions (such as where the member(s) of staff caring for you believe this would cause serious physical or mental harm to you or anyone else), they will be happy to show you your records.

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, 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.

It’s always our aim to be transparent and to work with a culture of openness but, at this time, the care of our patients and the safety of our staff takes precedence.

Therefore, please can you consider if your request is still needed or can be delayed.

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

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 wrong, we will correct it. If the information is right, or the opinion of a health professional, you will be given an opportunity to have a statement of your views added to the record.

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. 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.

This notice describes how we may use your information to protect you and others during the (coronavirus) COVID-19 outbreak.

Existing law which allows confidential patient information to be used and shared appropriately and lawfully in a public health emergency is being used during this outbreak. Using this law, the Secretary of State has required NHS Digital, NHS England and Improvement, arm's length Bodies (such as Public Health England), local authorities, health organisations and GPs to share confidential patient information to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Any information used or shared during the COVID-19 outbreak will be limited to the period of the outbreak unless there is another legal basis to use the data. Further information is available on the website and some frequently asked questions on this law are available on the NHSX website.

During this period of emergency, opt-outs will not generally apply to the data used to support the COVID-19 outbreak, due to the public interest in sharing information.

In order to look after your health and care needs we may share your confidential patient information including health and care records with clinical and non-clinical staff in other health and care providers, for example neighbouring GP practices, hospitals, private healthcare providers and NHS 111. We may also use the details we have to send public health messages to you, either by phone, text or email.

We may also be required to share personal and confidential patient information with health and care organisations and other bodies engaged in disease surveillance for the purposes of protecting public health, providing healthcare services to the public and monitoring and managing the outbreak.

Visit the NHSX website for further information about the variety of ways that health and care data is being used and shared by other NHS and social care organisations to support the COVID-19 response.

For purposes beyond individual care, your information relating to COVID-19 may be shared with other health care providers, with private health care organisations, universities conducting research into COVID-19 and private sector organisations.

If you tell us you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, we may need to collect specific health data about you. If we need to do so, we will not collect more information than we require and we will ensure that any information collected is treated with the appropriate safeguards.

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