Confidentiality - About
What is confidentiality?
Confidentiality is about privacy and respect for your wishes. It is important in your relationship with professionals. In this section, ‘professional’ includes the following people.
- Social workers
- Support workers
- Probation officers
- Housing officers
- Debt and benefit advisers
Confidentiality means that professionals should not tell other people personal things about you unless you say they can, or if it is absolutely necessary.
What are the rules on confidentiality?
The law says that someone has to keep your information confidential if:
- the information is private – this means that other people don't already know it, and
- you want the information to be kept private, and the professional knows this.
This means that your conversations with doctors, nurses, solicitors, advisers, and other professionals should be confidential. In practice, this isn’t always simple.
Every organisation should have its own policy on confidentiality. NHS staff have to follow the NHS Code of Practice on Confidentiality. You can read more here.
Professional bodies also give guidance to professionals.
This guidance tells professionals what they can do with the information you give them. Local teams may also have their own policies about confidentiality.
How can I find out an organisation’s confidentiality policy?
Most mental health organisations will have a confidentiality policy. You can ask the organisation to show you a copy of the policy. If they refuse, and they are a public body, like the NHS, you may be able to get the information under a ‘Freedom of Information’ (FOI) request.
An FOI request is where you ask a public body to give you information. Anyone has the right to make a FOI request. You can find more information on this here.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays