Get the best possible treatment by choosing to share part of your GP medical record

Waltham Forest CCG is upgrading IT systems so local health and social care professionals can share patient information if they need to, and if patients give their consent. This includes GPs, and hospital, community and social care staff.

If you give consent to share your information, you won’t don’t have to repeat your medical history every time you see someone new. It also means your treatment and care is based on up-to-date records so you don’t have to duplicate tests or have unnecessary hospital stays.

Any questions?

How do I give consent?

Every time you visit a local hospital a health professional may ask your permission to see part of your GP medical record. This helps them treat you quickly and effectively.

Who can see the information?

Only your GP practice and the hospital healthcare professionals looking after you can see your information. Hospital healthcare professionals need to ask your permission when they access the information.

What information will they see?

If you give your consent for someone in a hospital to see your GP medical record, they will only be able to see limited information.

This includes your name, address and date of birth, as well as a summary of your most up-to-date, relevant health information, such as any recent diagnosis’ and test results, what allergies you have and what medications and treatment you currently receive. Sensitive information is excluded.

How is my information accessed?

Can I refuse to share my GP medical record?

Yes. If you don’t want anybody outside of your GP surgery to see your GP medical information that is entirely your choice.

When a health professional in a hospital wants to view your GP medical information they need to ask you directly for permission. If you do not give permission they are not allowed to access your record.

If you do not want your records to be included on the GP shared records system, please contact your GP surgery and ask for to have your record blocked from being accessed by a hospital clinician.  

You can opt in or out at any time so you can always change your mind.

Is this different to the summary care record?

Yes. Summary care record is a national programme to share information between health services. This is a local programme between GPs in Waltham Forest and hospitals run by Barts Health NHS Trust.

I thought this already happened – why are we only just starting to do this?

Hospitals and GP practices haven’t always used the same IT systems, so up until now it hasn’t always been possible to share electronic medical records using a single method.

We have now updated the IT systems in Waltham Forest GP practices so that Waltham Forest GPs and local hospitals can view some patient information

Could my medical information be accessed or shared without my permission?

There are very strict laws on confidentiality and there are some very rare situations in which your record may be accessed or shared without permission. They applies to all medical records, not just the local shared electronic record:

  • Your record may be accessed in a medical emergency. If someone is unconscious or too unwell to give their permission, the system will allow a healthcare professional to view the patient’s GP shared record without permission if the healthcare professional thinks it is in the patient’s best interest
  • The NHS has a legal duty to disclose information without consent. For example, to support the prevention of terrorism and road traffic incidents, or to comply with a Court Order. This legal duty extends to other Acts, such as the Crime and Disorder Act and the Children’s Act, however we will always consider obtaining consent
  • Currently, parents or legal guardians have the right to have access to their child’s records if their child is under 16
  • If a healthcare professional is concerned you will harm yourself or others

What protections are in place to stop medical staff accessing my record without my permission?

A healthcare professional has to complete a ‘permission to view’ screen on the computer to confirm that you have given permission before gaining access to your record. If you say ‘no’, your response will be entered onto the system and access to your medical record will be denied. All attempts to access your record are recorded and are fully auditable.

Even if you do give permission, a healthcare professional is not permitted or able to send your information on to anyone else.

What are my rights about how you keep my information confidential?

Any health professional who wants to access your GP medical information needs to have your explicit consent.

You have the right to expect your health information to be kept private. You also have rights to make sure your details are kept confidential under the Data Protection Act 1998, human rights legislation (1998) and the common law.

In every place you are treated, there are people who are responsible for making sure your details are kept confidential. They are sometimes known as Information, or Caldicott, Guardians.

Will my patient record be shared with anyone else in the future?

Record sharing is being introduced by Waltham Forest GPs and local hospitals. In time, more health services in Waltham Forest provided by or on behalf of NHS Waltham Forest may be able to access shared records, with your permission.

This may include out of hour’s health services, community health services such as district nurses, podiatrists and occupational therapists.

Access will only be granted to those professionals who need to access information to support your ongoing health and only with your ongoing agreement.

 Please visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/records/healthrecords/  for general information on medical records.