Posted on Tuesday 29th March 2011
Patient records are carefully handled
A project to ensure patient data is kept safe and secure and is used appropriately is being undertaken by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.
National guidelines set out how NHS staff can use any data which could identify an individual patient, such as their name, address, date of birth, hospital number or NHS number.
For several months now the Trust has been carrying out work to ensure we meet these national requirements whilst making sure that we can continue to run our services efficiently and effectively.
From April 2011, our staff should only use personal data when delivering direct patient care or associated administration, such as registering patients, making bookings, or managing admissions and waiting lists.
Any data used for anything else, such as producing statistical or management reports, should not contain patient identities.
A privacy enhancing technique has been developed, named “pseudonymisation” by the Department of Health, whereby patient identifiers are obscured so that the patient is not directly identifiable. The process can be reversed if there is a legitimate reason to do so.
A survey has been made of the Trust’s information systems to ensure they comply with pseudonymisation requirements where feasible.
Chief Executive Carole Heatly said: “We take patient confidentiality very seriously and are always working to improve our systems for handling patient data.
“Sometimes it is essential for staff to have access to a patient’s personal information in order to give them the best possible treatment but where this is not necessary, we will do all we can to keep this information private."