The NHS holds vast amounts of data, and with the increasing awareness of patients and the public of their rights to access information held by the NHS, effective information management is vital.
Whilst the need to share information between clinicians is vital for effective continuous clinical care, striking the correct balance between the duty of confidentiality owed to patients and the rights of access to information set out in statute is a delicate one. Patient confidentiality is a cornerstone of good medical practice and information must only be shared in accordance with the law. There have been large scale changes in the law in recent years with guidance and case law clarifying the roles and duties of the NHS in holding, sharing and managing information.
Our Medical Law team have a range of experience in advising clients upon the use and management of patient information, rights of access to medical records and medical confidentiality.
The Data Protection Act 1998, Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Access to Health Records Act 1990 all provide basic rights of access to information held by the NHS, and our Medical Law team have expertise in advising on the complex application and interaction of these statutes.
With the growing importance of inter-agency working and sharing information in the public interest, our Team are also experienced in advising upon when information can and should be shared without patient consent with other agencies such as Social Services and the Police.