We are aware that recent events highlighted in the media concerning sharing your personal data may have left you confused and worried.
This has led to a rise in the number of queries asking us who we actually share your personal data with, do we have the rights to and can we trust these external organizations to look after your personal data.
We would like to assure you that as a practice we take your personal data very seriously and we have certain processes in place to make sure your personal data is in safe hands at all times.
As a practice we must adhere to UK Data Protection Laws, the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, both pieces of legislation are around to make sure we look after your data. Where we do not follow any part of the Data Protection laws we are at risk of being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on your behalf, and possibly being issued with a fine or warning. The ICO is an independent advisory body that reports directly to Parliament and makes sure your rights around your personal data are protected.
To help us keep on track and make sure we abide by these laws we complete something called the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) that incorporates the laws. It helps us measure how we are doing and keeps us in line with the law and we are required to complete this annually.
There will be times when we have to share your personal data with external organizations/companies in order to provide you with the care you need. However, we only do this where we need to, where we have a legal reason to do so and when we are happy they will continue to safeguard your personal data. An example would be the Clinical IT system we use that holds your medical records, this is supplied by an IT company who will host your personal data to enable us to use the system.
In any event, where we share your personal data, we will conduct the necessary Data Protection checks with the external organization. Like us, they are required by data protection law to provide us with relevant assurances that any personal data we share with them will remain secure. Under the UK GDPR, they are required to provide us with documents to assure us and this will include contracts that must include UK GDPR clauses. If an organization does not process your personal data in line with the law they too will be investigated by the ICO.
We cannot share your personal data without a legal basis, which means we cannot give your personal data to anyone just because they want it. The UK GDPR sets out 6 legal bases we can use, the most common one you would have heard of is ‘consent.’ Consent is not often used in healthcare and where we are using your personal data for direct care, it just would not work and the UK GDPR recognize this so we apply a legal basis called ‘public tasks.’ Public tasks cover the use of personal data where it relates to either being in the interest of the patient’s care or the public interest. This means that we do not need to ask for your consent, although we are obliged to be open and transparent with your personal data which we do via our Privacy Notice.
We certainly will not sell your personal data to anyone.
When we share your personal data we need to abide by the UK GDPR principles, one of which is called ‘data minimization’ – this means we can legally only share what is relevant and necessary for the task.
Finally along with completing the DSPT (as mentioned above) where we have any data protection concerns or need advice we have a dedicated Information Governance team who are on hand to guide us through the dos and don’ts.
I hope this information has provided you with the assurance that we take the necessary steps to make sure your personal data is safe when in our care and that where we share your personal data we do so only if the law allows us to.