The Dudley Group is working in the health and care system to improve care for patients and the public. Information about your health and care helps us to improve your individual care, speed up diagnosis plan your local services and research new treatments.
Whenever you use a health or care service, such as attending Accident & Emergency or using Community Care services, important information about you is collected in a patient record for that service. Collecting this information helps to ensure you get the best possible care and treatment.
The information collected about you when you use these services can also be used and provided to other organisations for purposes beyond your individual care, for instance to help with:
- improving the quality and standards of care provided
- research into the development of new treatments
- preventing illness and diseases
- monitoring safety
- planning services
This may only take place when there is a clear legal basis to use this information. All these uses help to provide better health and care for you, your family and future generations. Confidential patient information about your health and care is only used like this where allowed by law.
Most of the time, anonymised data is used for research and planning so that you cannot be identified in which case your confidential patient information isn’t needed.
The rules about how this data can and cannot be used have been strengthened. The NHS and The Dudley Group is committed to keeping patient information safe and always being clear about how it is used.
How your data is used
Your health and care information is used to improve your individual care. It is also used to help us research new treatments, decide where to provide services and plan for the number of doctors and nurses in your hospital. Wherever possible we try to use data that does not identify you, but sometimes it is necessary to use your confidential patient information.
What is confidential patient information?
Confidential patient information identifies you and says something about your health, care or treatment. You would expect this information to be kept private. Information that only identifies you, like your name and address is not considered confidential patient information and may still be used: for example, to contact you if your GP practice is merging with another.
Who can use your confidential patient information for research and planning?
Is it used by the NHS, local authorities, university and hospital researchers, medical colleges and pharmaceutical companies researching new treatments.
Making your data opt-out choice
You can choose to opt out of sharing your confidential patient information for research and planning. There may still be times when your confidential patient information is used: for example, during an epidemic where there might be a risk to you or to other people’s health. You can also still consent to take part in a specific research project.
Will choosing this opt-out affect your care and treatment?
No, your confidential patient information will still be used for your individual care. Choosing to opt out will not affect your care and treatment. You will still be invited for screening services, such as screening for bowel cancer.
What should you do next?
You do not need to do anything if you are happy about how your confidential patient information is used.
If you do not want your confidential patient information to be used for research and planning, you can choose to opt out securely online or through a telephone service and you can change your mind sat any time.
How can you Opt Out?
To find out more or to register your choice to opt out, please visit www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters. On this web page you will:
- See what is meant by confidential patient information
- Find examples of when confidential patient information is used for individual care and examples of when it is used for purposes beyond individual care
- Find out more about the benefits of sharing data
- Understand more about who uses the data
- Find out how your data is protected
- Be able to access the system to view, set or change your opt-out setting
- Find the contact telephone number if you want to know any more or to set/change your opt-out by phone
- See the situations where the opt-out will not apply
You can also find out more about how patient information is used at:
https://www.hra.nhs.uk/information-about-patients/ (which covers health and care research); and https://understandingpatientdata.org.uk/what-you-need-know (which covers how and why patient information is used, the safeguards and how decisions are made)
The Dudley Group NHS foundation Trust is currently compliant with the national data opt-out policy.