Why does NHS Wales collect information about you?

To help you:

Your doctor (hospital doctor and GP) or other health professionals caring for you, keep records about your health and any treatment or care you receive from NHS Wales. This information is either written down or held on a computer. These records are then used to guide and manage the care you receive. This is to make sure that:

· any health professional involved in your care has accurate and up-to-date information to assess your health and decide what care you need;

· you are invited to receive routine treatment such as immunisations and screening;

· there is a good basis for assessing the type and quality of care you have received. This will lead to better care both for you and for other patients in the future;

· if you need to complain about the care you receive, your concerns or complaints can be properly investigated.

You may receive care from organisations that are not part of NHS Wales, such as Social Services or private and voluntary healthcare providers. If so, there may be a need to share some information about you so that everyone involved in your care can work together for your benefit.

Information about you will only be used or passed on to others involved with your care, if they need it.

Whenever your information is used for your care, it will be handled in the strictest confidence. NHS Wales will:

· not normally disclose your personal information without your consent, unless it is in your best interests or required by law;

· ensure that only the minimum amount of information needed will be passed on;

· ensure that anyone receiving information about you is under an obligation to keep it confidential and to only use the information for the specified purpose;

· ensure that information sharing agreements between organisations will control the way your information is shared;

· have secure systems in place to help prevent unauthorised access to patient information held on its computers.

If you ask us not to share information about you with another person or organisation we will respect your wishes unless there are exceptional circumstances.  Not sharing some information may mean that we have to alter the level of care we provide to you but this will be explained.  The final decision will normally rest with you.

There are exceptional circumstances where information about you will be shared even if you do not give us permission to do so.  These are where information is shared for legal reasons or in the public interest.  Circumstances where information may be shared without your permission include:

· Where it is required by law, for example the notification of births, deaths and some infectious diseases;

· Where a court order has been issued requesting the information;

· Where there is a serious risk of harm to you or other individuals;

· Where a child is believed to be at risk of harm (Children’s Act 1989);

· Where information is required for the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime;

· Where information you have supplied to us is about a serious crime that has been committed, such as murder, manslaughter, rape, treason or kidnapping (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984);

· Where information you have supplied to us is about suspected terrorism (Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and Terrorism Act 2000);

· Where the disclosure is necessary in any legal proceedings.

To help NHS Wales:

Your information is also used to help manage NHS Wales. It may be used to:

· review the care given to patients to make sure it is of the highest possible standard;

· make sure services are planned to meet patients’ needs in the future;

· investigate complaints, legal claims or important incidents;

· ensure that money is used to pay for the services it provides;

· check and report on how effective NHS Wales has been;

· make sure that NHS Wales gives value for money.

NHS Wales may sometimes use non-NHS Wales’ organisations to provide services on their behalf; for example, audit or computer system maintenance.

Whenever possible your name, address and other information that identifies you will be removed. In the rare case when this is not possible a special legal agreement will be in place to ensure that patient information is kept safe.

To help others:

Your information may be used to help protect and improve the health of other people, and to help create new services.

Where necessary and to comply with the law, your doctor may have to give information to certain organisations, for example if you have an infectious disease which might endanger the safety of others (e.g. meningitis or measles).

Some services need information to support medical research and find out how diseases develop. This will make sure that:

· healthcare organisations can plan ahead and provide the right services to the right people;

· progress can be made in diagnosing and managing diseases;

· drugs can be made more effective, for example, by reducing side effects.