Confidentiality - Your information
Can professionals share my information with others?
With your consent
Usually, a professional must ask you before they tell other people information about you. You can tell the professional not to share any information, or you can ask them to only share some information. For example, you may be happy for your doctor to tell other people about your treatment and care needs, but not your diagnosis.
Ask the professional to make a note on your records about what you would like them to share. This will help them to remember, and will make other NHS professionals aware.
When you are unwell, you might change your mind about letting your family or friends have information. It is a good idea to think about this before you become unwell. If you would prefer professionals to carry on sharing information, even if you tell them not to, you can put this in an advance statement. This does not guarantee that professionals will share information, but it makes it more likely that they will.
Advance statements set out what you would like to happen if you become unwell.
You can find more information about ‘Planning your care- Advance statements’ here.
Without your consent
Professionals can share information without your consent if:
- there is a risk of serious harm to you or to others, or
- there is a risk of a serious crime.
For example, if someone tells their doctor that they are planning to hurt themselves or other people, the doctor could decide to share this information with someone. Or contact the police.
In some situations, a professional can share your personal information if it is for the public good. Your personal information can also be shared if the law says it has to be. For example, a court could order your doctor to give information to them.
There may be times when you cannot give consent for a professional to share information because you are unconscious or very unwell. Being unable to make decisions for yourself is called ‘lacking capacity’. In this situation, your doctor may share information if this is in your best interests.
You can find more information about ‘Mental capacity and mental illness’ here.
How can I find out what information organisations hold about me?
If you would like to find out what information is held about you, you can make a ‘subject access request’. You normally have to pay for this.
The cost is usually no more than £10. But it can be more if the information is either:
- in certain types of records, such as health or education records, or
- a large number of paper records held by a public authority, like your local council.
The maximum cost for getting information from your health records is £50.
Sometimes an organisation is allowed to withhold information. This might be because the information also talks about other people, and those people don't want that information shared.
Information can also be withheld if it’s about things like:
- preventing, detecting, or investigating a crime,
- national security,
- the armed forces, or
If you think that the organisation has withheld information when they shouldn’t have done, you should report this to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
You can find more information on the Data Protection Act and subject access requests from the Information Commissioner’s Office. Their contact details are in this section.
You can also look on the GOV.UK website.
You can find more information about ‘Access to health records’ 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