Purpose of Policy  

This overarching Data Security and Protection or Information Governance policy provides an overview of the organisation’s approach to information governance and includes data protection and other related information governance policies; and details about the roles and management responsible for data security and protection in the organisation. 

Introduction  

Information is the most important asset available to an organisation and therefore all organisations must have robust arrangements for Information Governance (IG), which are reviewed annually and described in the new Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DS&PT). It is of paramount importance to ensure that information is effectively managed and that appropriate policies, procedures, management accountability and structures provide a robust governance framework for information management. 

The policies will provide assurance to our commissioner, East Lancashire CCG, the Care Quality Commission, the Board of Trustees and to individuals that personal information is dealt with legally, securely, efficiently and effectively, in order to deliver the best possible care.  Through the action of approving the policy and its associated supporting documents, Rossendale Hospice (RH) and it’s Governing body provides an organisational commitment to its staff and the public that information will be handled within the identified framework.  

RH will seek to meet the objectives prescribed in the NHS Act 2006 and the Health & Social Care Act 2012 and to uphold the NHS Constitution. The policies objective is to ensure that people who work and volunteer for RH understand how to look after the information they need to do their jobs, and to protect this information on behalf of patients. 

General Data Protection Regulations/Data Protection Act 2018 

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved in 2016 and became directly applicable as law in the UK from 25th May 2018 as did the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18) and fills in the gaps in of the GDPR, addressing areas in which flexibility and derogations are permitted.  The new GDPR/DPA18 is underpinned by a number of data protection principles, which drive compliance. While the data protection principles under the GDPR/DPA18 are similar to those found in in the DPA 1998, certain concepts are more fully developed.

Six Principles of the General Data Protection Regulations/Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR/DPA18) 

First: Lawful, fair and transparent processing – this principle emphasizes transparency for all EU data subjects. When the data is collected, it must be clear as to why that data is being collected and how the data will be used. Organisations also must be willing to provide details surrounding the data processing when requested by the data subject. For example, if a data subject asks who the data protection officer is at that organisation or what data the organisation has about them, that information needs to be available. 

Second: Purpose limitation – this principle means that organisations need to have a lawful and legitimate purpose for processing the information in the first place. Consider organisations that require forms with 20 data fields, when all they really need is a name, email, address and maybe a phone number. Simply put, this principle says that organisations shouldn’t collect any piece of data that doesn’t have a specific purpose, and those who do can be out of compliance. 

Third: Data minimisation – this principle instructs organisations to ensure the data they capture is adequate, relevant and not excessive. In this day and age, businesses collect and compile every piece of data possible for various reasons, such as understanding customer buying behaviours and patterns or remarketing based on intelligent analytics. Based on this principle, organisations must be sure that they are only storing the minimum amount of data required for their purpose 

Fourth: Accurate and up-to-date – this principle requires data controllers to make sure information remains accurate, valid and fit for purpose. To comply with this principle, the organisation must have a process and policies in place to address how they will maintain the data they are processing and storing. It may seem like a lot of work, but a conscious effort to maintain accurate customer and employee databases will help prove compliance and hopefully also prove useful to the business. 

Fifth: Kept for no longer than necessary – this principle discourages unnecessary data redundancy and replication. It limits how the data is stored and moved, how long the data is stored, and requires the understanding of how the data subject would be identified if the data records were to be breached. To ensure compliance, organisations must have control over the storage and movement of data. This includes implementing and enforcing data retention policies and not allowing data to be stored in multiple places. For example, organisations should prevent users from saving a copy of a customer list on a local laptop or moving the data to an external device such as a USB. Having multiple, illegitimate copies of the same data in multiple locations is a compliance problems. 

Sixth: Appropriate security measures – this principle protects the integrity and privacy of data by making sure it is secure (which extends to IT systems, paper records and physical security). An organisation that is collecting, and processing data is now solely responsible for implementing appropriate security measures that are proportionate to risks and rights of individual data subjects. Negligence is no longer an excuse under GDPR/DPA18, so organisations must spend an adequate amount of resources to protect the data from those who are negligent or malicious. To achieve compliance, organisations should evaluate how well they are enforcing security policies, utilizing dynamic access controls, verifying the identity of those accessing the data and protecting against malware/ransomware.  

For information the GDPR also introduced the principle of accountability:

Accountability and liability – this principle ensures that organisations can demonstrate compliance. Organisations must be able to demonstrate to the governing bodies that they have taken the necessary steps comparable to the risk their data subjects face. To ensure compliance, organisations must be sure that every step within the GDPR strategy is auditable and can be compiled as evidence quickly and efficiently. For example, GDPR requires organisations to respond to requests from data subjects regarding what data is available about them. The organisation must be able to promptly remove that data, if desired. Organisations. not only need to have a process in place to manage the request, but also need to have a full audit trail to prove that they took the proper actions.

Caldicott Principles  

The Caldicott Committee Report on the Review of Patient-Identifiable Information 1997 found that compliance with confidentiality and security arrangements was patchy across the NHS and identified six good practice principles for the health service when handling patient information. A further Caldicott2 review was published in March 2013, which amended the Caldicott Principles, as follows:  

Justify the purpose(s)  Every proposed use or transfer of personal confidential data within or from an organisation should be clearly defined, scrutinised and documented, with continuing uses regularly reviewed, by an appropriate guardian.   

Don’t use personal confidential data unless it is absolutely necessary - Personal confidential data items should not be included unless it is essential for the specified purpose(s) of that flow. The need for patients to be identified should be considered at each stage of satisfying the purpose(s).  

Use the minimum necessary personal confidential data- Where use of personal confidential data is considered to be essential, the inclusion of each individual item of data should be considered and justified so that the minimum amount of personal confidential data is transferred or accessible as is necessary for a given function to be carried out.  

Access to personal confidential data should be on a strict need-to-know basis- Only those individuals who need access to personal confidential data should have access to it, and they should only have access to the data items that they need to see. This may mean introducing access controls or splitting data flows where one data flow is used for several purposes.  

Everyone with access to personal confidential data should be aware of their responsibilities  - Action should be taken to ensure that those handling personal confidential data — both clinical and non-clinical staff — are made fully aware of their responsibilities and obligations to respect patient confidentiality.  

Comply with the law - Every use of personal confidential data must be lawful. Someone in each organisation handling personal confidential data should be responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with legal requirements.  

The duty to share information can be as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality  - Health and social care professionals should have the confidence to share information in the best interests of their patients within the framework set out by these principles. They should be supported by the policies of their employers, regulators and professional bodies.

Appointment of Data Protection Officer  

Under GDPR/DPA18, Data Protection Officers (DPO’s) will be at the heart of this new legal framework for all Health and Social care organisations facilitating compliance with the provisions of the GDPR. 

It is mandatory for data controllers and processors to designate a DPO. It is especially important for organisations to nominate a DPO where it is processing personal and sensitive information on a large scale.  It would also be important to ensure that the DPO contact details are available in accordance with the requirements such as in fair processing notices. For public authorities, DPO’s are also required to have knowledge of administrative rules and procedures of the organisation. The GDPR/DPA18 requires that organisations involve the DPO, “in all issues which relate to the protection of personal data”. It is therefore crucial that the DPO is involved from the earliest stage possible in all issues relating to data protection.In relation to Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA), the GDPR/DPA18 explicitly provides for the early involvement of the DPO and specifies that the controller shall seek the advice of the DPO when carrying out such impact assessments. Ensuring that the DPO is informed and consulted at the outset will facilitate compliance with the DPA18, promote a privacy by design approach and should therefore be standard procedure within an organisations governance and procurement procedures. In addition, it is important that the DPO be seen as a discussion partner within the organisation and that they are part of the relevant working groups dealing with data processing activities within the organisation.  

Organisations should continue to ensure that the Head of Information Governance or the designated representative:

  • Is invited to participate regularly in meetings of senior and middle management where data processing activities are discussed, for example the IG Committee meetings.  
  • Are consulted where decisions with data protection implications are taken. All relevant information must be passed on to the IG team in a timely manner to allow them to provide adequate advice. 
  • The opinion of the IG team should always be given due weight. In case of disagreement, the GDPR/DPA18 recommends, as good practice, to document the reasons for not following the DPO or IG team’s advice.  
  • The DPO/IG team must be promptly consulted once a data breach or another incident has occurred, for example when incidents occur
Resources  

The GDPR/DPA18 requires that the organisation support the DPO function by providing resources necessary to carry out tasks and access to personal data and processing operations to maintain their expert knowledge, this could be through: 

  • Active support for the DPO function by senior management at Governing Body Level
  • Sufficient time to fulfil their duties
  • Adequate support in terms of financial resources, infrastructure and premises
  • Official communication of the role and support
  • Continuous training to stay up to date within the field of Data Protection It may also be necessary to set up a DPO team 

Scope 

This policy applies to those members of staff that are directly employed by RH and volunteers for whom RH has legal responsibility. The policy also applies to all third parties and others authorised to undertake work on behalf of the Hospice

Responsibilities: 

Organisation (Accountable Officer) Overall accountability for procedural documents across the organisation lies with RH’s CEO. As the Accountable Officer that has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective document management system and the governance of information, meeting statutory requirements and adhering to guidance issued in respect of information governance and procedural documents.

SIRO

RH have appointed a Trustee as Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO), who will: 

  • Take overall ownership of the organisation’s Information Risk Policy. 
  • Act as champion for information risk on the Governing Body and provide written advice to the Accountable Officer on the content of the organisation’s annual governance statement in regard to information risk. 
  • Understand how the strategic business goals of RH may be impacted by information risks, and how those risks may be managed. 
  • Implement and lead RHs Information Governance Risk Assessment and Management processes within the Hospice.
  • Advise the Board on the effectiveness of information risk management across the Hospice.
  • Receive training as necessary to ensure they remain effective in their role as SIRO. 
Caldicott Guardian  

RH have appointed the CEO as Caldicott  Guardian who will:  

  • Ensure that RH satisfies the highest practical standards for handling patient identifiable information. 
  • Facilitate and enable appropriate information sharing and make decisions on behalf of RH following advice on options for lawful and ethical processing of information, in particular in relation to disclosures. 
  • Represent and champion Information Governance requirements and issues at Board level. 
  • Ensure that confidentiality issues are appropriately reflected in organisational strategies, policies and working procedures for staff.
  • Oversee all arrangements, protocols and procedures where confidential patient information may be shared with external bodies both within, and outside, the Hospice  

Data Protection Officer

RH has also appointed a Trustee as the Data Protection Officer (see section above about this new role). 

Information Asset Owners 

Information Asset Owners are accountable for the application of this policy to the information assets that they ‘own’: 

  • Lead and foster a culture that values, protects and uses information for the benefit of patients. 
  • Know what information comprises or is associated with the asset and understands the nature and justification of information flows to and from the organisation.
  • Know who has access to the asset, whether system or information, and why, and ensures access is monitored and compliant with policy. 
  • Understand and address risks to the asset and providing assurance to the SIRO. 
  • Ensure there is a legal basis for processing and for any disclosures
  • Refer queries about any of the above to the IG Team.
Line Managers 
 
Line managers will take responsibility for ensuring that these policies are implemented within their department or area of responsibility.

User 

It is the responsibility of each employee to adhere to the policies.  All staff must make sure that they use the organisation’s IT systems appropriately and in accordance with the IG Handbook/Code of Conduct.

Information Governance Committee

Rossendale Hospice has an established Information Governance Committee to monitor and co-ordinate implementation of the policies, the new Data Security and Protection Toolkit requirements, Risk Management and compliance  and other information related legal obligations. 

RHs Information Governance Committee will provide expert advice and guidance to all staff on all elements of Information Governance. The team is responsible for: 

  • Providing advice and guidance on Information Governance issues to all staff.  
  • Developing information governance policies and procedures.  
  • Developing information governance awareness and training programmes for staff.  
  • Ensuring compliance with GDPR/DPA18, Information Security and other information related legislation.  
  • Providing support to the team who handle freedom of information and subject access requests.  
  • Providing support to Caldicott Guardian and Senior Information Risk Owner for information governance issues.
Information Governance Training  

All staff are mandated to undertake the Data Security Awareness Level 1 e-learning module within their 1st year of employment. For subsequent information governance training, staff will undertake the IG refresher module via the NHS Digital Learning Website.

Data Security and Protection Toolkit  

From April 2018 the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSP Toolkit) replaced the Information Governance Toolkit (IG Toolkit). It forms part of a new framework for assuring that organisations are implementing the ten data security standards and meeting their statutory obligations on data protection and data security recommended in the government’s response to the National Data Guardian for Health and Care’s Review of Data Security, Consent and Opt- Outs and the Care Quality Commission’s Review ‘Safe Data, Safe Care’. 

The ten data security standards apply to all health and care organisations. When considering data security as part of the well-led element of their inspections, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will look at how organisations are assuring themselves that the steps set out in this document are being taken.

Rossendale Hospice Data Security and Protection Requirements  

Leadership Obligation 1 

People:  

Ensure staff are equipped to handle information respectfully and safely, according to the Caldicott Principles 

Data Security Standard 1  

All staff ensure that personal confidential data is handled, stored and transmitted securely, whether in electronic or paper form. Personal confidential data is shared for only lawful and appropriate purposes 

Data Security Standard 2  

All staff understand their responsibilities under the National Data Guardian’s Data Security Standards, including their obligation to handle information responsibly and their personal accountability for deliberate or avoidable breaches. 

Data Security Standard 3 

 

All staff complete appropriate annual data security training and pass a mandatory test, provided through the redesigned Data Security and Protection Toolkit (or provide similar via in-house training programmes) 

 

Leadership Obligation 2 

Process:  

Ensure the organisation proactively prevents data security breaches and responds appropriately to incidents or near misses 

Data Security Standard 4 

 

Personal confidential data is only accessible to staff who need it for their current role and access is removed as soon as it is no longer required. All access to personal confidential data on IT systems can be attributed to individuals. 

 

Data Security Standard 5 

 

Processes are reviewed at least annually to identify and improve processes which have caused breaches or near misses, or which force staff to use workarounds which compromise data security 

 

Data Security Standard 6 

 

Cyber-attacks against services are identified and resisted and the Security System of our IT Provider advice is responded to. Action is taken immediately following a data breach or a near miss, with a report made to senior management within 12 hours of detection. 

Data Security Standard 7 

 

A continuity plan is in place to respond to threats to data security, including significant data breaches or near misses, and it is tested once a year as a minimum, with a report to senior management 

 

Leadership Obligation 3 

Technology:  

Ensure technology is secure and up-to-date. 

Data Security Standard 8 

 

No unsupported operating systems, software or internet browsers are used within the IT estate. 

 

Data Security Standard 9 

 

A strategy is in place for protecting IT systems from cyber threats, which is based on a proven cyber security framework such as Cyber Essentials. This is reviewed at least annually 

 

Data Security Standard 10 

 

IT suppliers are held accountable via contracts for protecting the personal confidential data they process and meeting the National Data Guardian’s Data Security Standards 

 

There are supporting policies and procedures to meet their information governance, data security and protection obligations and enable RH to fulfil its information governance responsibilities. These policies provide a framework to bring together all of the requirements, standards and best practice that apply to the handling of confidential, business sensitive and personal information and include: 

  • Data Protection - Included within this policy
  • Data Quality - Included within this policy 
  • Records Creation, Management and Disposal 
  • Patient Access to Health Records Policy and Procedure 

Policy Review  

These policies will be reviewed in 3 years or earlier if required in response to exceptional circumstances, organisational change or relevant changes in legislation/guidance.

Data Protection Policy

Introduction 

Rossendale Hospice needs to collect personal confidential information about people with whom it deals in order to carry out its business and provide its services. Such people include patients, employees (present, past and prospective), suppliers and other business contacts. The information includes name, address, email address, data of birth, private and confidential information, and sensitive information. 

In addition, RH may occasionally be required to collect and use certain types of personal information to comply with the requirements of the law. No matter how it is collected, recorded and used (e.g. on a computer or other digital media, on hardcopy, paper or images, including CCTV) this personal information must be dealt with properly to ensure compliance with GDPR/DPA18. 

The lawful and proper treatment of personal information by RH is extremely important to the success of our business and in order to maintain the confidence of our service users and employees. We ensure that personal information is held lawfully and correctly and in line with this policy.

Keeping data subjects informed

We are required to let patients and other data subjects know what Information we collect about them, how we will use it and who we may share it with.

There are a number of methods for achieving this, for example information is posted on our public facing website.

Data quality and reuse

Rossendale Hospice will seek to maintain standards of information quality and avoid duplication, inaccuracy and inconsistencies across personal information. We will maintain comprehensive records management policies, see further in this document, in order to help avoid excessive retention or premature destruction of personal information.

We will only use personal information where strictly necessary, which will be anonymised.

Data subjects’ rights

We have a records management policy which ensures that individuals can exercise rights over their own personal data in line with GDPR/DPA18. Access to the records of the deceased is also covered under the remit of this policy, though these fall outside of the GDPR/DPA18 and are dealt with in line with the Access to Health Records Act 1990 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Record of Processing Activities

As part of its compliance with GDPR/DPA18 and to provide assurance to its regulatory bodies we must maintains an internal record of processing activities which includes the following: - 

  • Purposes of the processing. 
  • Description of the data processed 
  • Details of who we send personal data to 
  • Details of transfers to third countries including documentation of the transfer mechanism safeguards in place. 
  • Description of technical and organisational security measures

Security

Personal data should be kept secure at all times. We ensure that there are adequate policies and procedures in place to protect against unauthorised access and against loss, destruction and damage.

 

Data Quality Policy 

Introduction 

Rossendale Hospice are committed to ensuring the quality of its data, to promote effective decision making and patient safety.

High quality information means better patient care and patient safety, and there could be potentially serious consequences if information is not correct and up to date, both for patients and for the Hospice as a whole.

Management information produced from patient data is essential for the efficient running of the Hospice and to maximise utilisation of resources for the benefit of patients and staff. It supports making effective decisions about the deployment of resources, and in demonstrating the value of the services provided by the Hospice

RH require accurate, timely and relevant patient information to support: 

  • The delivery of effective, safe patient care 
  • The delivery of its core business objectives 
  • The monitoring of activity and performance for internal and external management purposes 
  • Clinical governance and clinical audit 
  • Service agreements and contracts 
  • Healthcare planning 
  • Accountability 
  • Compliance with Data Protection Act 2018 
  • To be able to evidence compliance with regulatory requirements 
  • Support effective decision making with regards to the deployment of resources
The key obligations upon staff to maintain accurate records relate to: 

Department of Health, Information Governance requirements 

  • Legal - GDPR/DPA18 
  • Freedom of Information Act (2000)
  • Environmental Information Regulations (2000) 
  • Access to Health Records Act (1990) 
  • Contractual (contracts of employment) 
  • Ethical (Professional codes of practice) 
  • Policy (Records Management Policy, Information Governance Policy) 
  • RH is committed to ensuring and improving where possible the quality of data it uses for all purposes. 

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set out what is required by all staff in order to ensure the quality of data used across the Hospice.

Responsibility for data quality rests with  the Accountable Officer (The CEO) 

It is the responsibility of all staff to ensure the information they generate is legible, complete, accurate, relevant, accessible and recorded in a timely manner. The quality of information produced can have a significant impact on the quality of services that we provide. 

Data Quality is essential for:

  • Efficient delivery of patient care 
  • Clinical governance and minimising clinical risk 
  • Management information to enable decisions to be made on the basis of sound information, operational and strategic, local and national. 
  • Performance measurement against national trends and trends over time, so that we can continually plan improvements for our patients. 
  • As a foundation on which future investment and strategic decisions will be based. 
  • To support clinical audit and research and development, with a view to improving patient care in the future 

All staff need to be able to rely on the accuracy of the information available to them, in order to provide timely and effective services regardless of whether they are patient facing or central support functions. 

To achieve this, all staff need to understand their responsibilities with regard to accurate recording of patient data, whether on a computer system or on paper.

Data Quality Standards 

Rossendale Hospice data quality standards are: 

Accurate and up to date:

Valid: Data should be within an agreed format which conforms to recognised national or local standards. 

Complete: Data should be captured in full. All mandatory data items within a data set should be completed utilising the agreed Emis codes

Timely: Data should be collected at the earliest opportunity; recording of timely data is beneficial to the treatment of the patient. All data will be recorded to a deadline which will ensure that it meets national reporting and extract deadlines

Defined and consistent: The data being collected should be understood by the staff collecting it and data items should be internally consistent. Data definitions should be reflected in procedure documents. 

Coverage: Data will reflect the work of the Hospice CCGs and not go unrecorded. Spot checks and comparison of data between months can highlight potential areas of data loss. Staff should be cognisant that if something is not recorded there is no auditable proof that something occurred, and as such could be challenged.

Free from duplication and fragmentation:

Patients should not have duplicated or confused patient records, and where possible data should be recorded once and staff should know exactly where to access the data. Where a duplicate record is created, for example in the event that a record is misplaced, records should be merged once the original is found

Security and confidentiality:

Data must be stored securely and processed in line with relevant legislation and local policy in relation to confidentiality. All staff must pay due regard to where they record information, what they record, how they store it and how they share information ensuring they comply with national and local requirements, policies and procedures.

How Data Quality can be improved 

Rossendale Hospice acknowledge that good quality data can be achieved by careful monitoring and error correction, but it is more effective and efficient for data to be entered correctly first time. In order to achieve this, good procedures must exist so that staff can be trained and supported in their work.

Information Asset Owners are responsible for ensuring that there are specific policies or procedures in place in relation to all information assets under their control, which set out as a minimum, when the information asset should be used, how it should be used and by whom and how the quality of data recorded will be monitored.

Where appropriate Information Asset Owners must ensure that training is available for staff to use the asset, and that information risks associated with each asset are actively identified, and being mitigated, ensuring that they provide assurance to the SIRO. 

Procedures need to be reviewed at least every three years or in response to changes in legislation, best practice etc., to take account of any changes in national standards and definitions. 

 

Access to Information Policy (Subject Access Requests - SAR)  

Introduction

All living individuals have the right under the new Data Protection Regulations (GDPR/DPA18), subject to certain exemptions, to have access to their personal records that are held by the Hospice.  This is known as a ‘subject access request’ (SAR). 

The GDPR/DPA18 applies only to living persons but there are limited rights of access to personal data of deceased persons under the Access to Health Records Act 1990

Requests may be received from members of staff, service users or any other individual who RH have had dealings with and holds data about that individual. 

This will include information held both electronically and manually and will therefore include personal information recorded within electronic systems, spreadsheets, databases or word documents.

Anyone making such a requested is entitled to be given a description of the information held, what it is used for, who might use it, who it may be passed on to, where the information was gathered from.

Under GDPR individuals must also be provided with information on the expected retention periods of the information held, the right to request rectification or erasure of processing or raise and objection to the processing altogether. 

GDPR/DPA18 changes to SAR

Under GDPR/DPA18 the right to make a SAR will be very similar, with the key changes including: 

  • Abolition of the £10 administration fee (although “reasonable” fees can be charged for an excessive request or for further copies). 
  • Information must be provided without delay and at the latest within one month of receipt. 
  • Higher fines for failing to comply. The maximum fine that can be issued by the Information Commissioner (ICO) is 4% of global turnover or 20 million euros, whichever is higher, and individuals also retain the right to pursue a claim in court.

Scope and Purpose

This policy applies to those members of staff that are directly employed by RH and volunteers for whom RH has legal responsibility. The policy also applies to all third parties and others authorised to undertake work on behalf of the Hospice.

The purpose of this policy is to provide a guide to all staff on how to deal with subject access requests received and advise service users and other individuals on how and where to make requests. 

 

What is a SAR 

Subject access is most often used by individuals who want to see a copy of the information an organisation holds about them. However, subject access goes further than this and an individual is entitled to be: 

  • told whether any personal data is being processed; 
  • given a description of the personal data, the reasons it is being processed, and whether it will be given to any other organisations or people; 
  • given a copy of the personal data; and 
  • given details of the source of the data (where this is available)

Personal data is information that relates to an individual who can be identified either directly or indirectly and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the information holder or any other person in respect of the individual.

Some types of personal data are exempt from the right of subject access and so cannot be obtained by making a SAR, other conditions to consider: 

  • All clinical data should be reviewed by a clinician and consideration should be given to redacting any information likely to cause serious harm to the mental or physical health of any individual
  • Information supplied by third parties e.g. family members should usually be redacted
  • Data and information held from other agencies may be disclosed but should be discussed with the originating body first
  • Any information subject to Legal Professional Privilege should not be disclosed
  • Information should not be disclosed where there is a statutory or court restriction on disclosure e.g. adoption records
  • References written for current or former employees are exempt (but not those received from third parties)
  • In the case of deceased individual’s records, information should not be disclosed where the entry in the records makes it clear that the deceased expected the information to remain confidential
  • A personal record may also contain reference to third parties and redaction should be considered by balancing the GDPR/DPA18 rights of all parties  

Recognising a SAR 

A SAR must be made in writing; however, the requestor does not need to mention Data Protection/GDPR or state that they are making a SAR for their request to be valid. They may even refer to other legislation, for example, the Freedom of Information Act 1998, but their request should still be treated according to this policy. 

The following are examples of formal subject access requests: 

Please send me a copy of my HR file, or medical records

I am a solicitor acting on behalf of my client and request a copy of their medical record (an appropriate authority is enclosed)

The police state that they are investigating a crime and provide an appropriate form requesting information signed by a senior police officer 

Requests should be dealt with within a maximum of one month under GDPR subject to the necessity to seek clarification. It is possible to extend this timescale by a further two months where requests are complex however if this is the case Rossendale Hospice must inform the individual within one month of the request and explain why the extension is necessary. 

The Common Law Duty of Confidentiality extends beyond death. Certain individuals have rights of access to deceased records under the Access to Health Records Act 1990:

  • The patient’s personal representative (Executor or Administrator of the deceased’s estate) 
  • Any person who may have a claim arising out of the patient’s death
A Next of Kin has no automatic right of access, but professional codes of practice allow for a clinician to share information where concerns have been raised. Guidance should be sought from the Caldicott Guardian in relation to requests for deceased records. 

A SAR can be made via any of, but not exclusively, the following methods:

  • Email 
  • Fax 
  • Post 

Where an individual is unable to make a written request, it is the Department of Health view that in serving the interest of patients it can be made verbally, with the details recorded on the individual’s file.  

Requests made about or on behalf of other individuals 

A third party, e.g. solicitor, may also make a valid SAR on behalf of an individual. 

Where a request is made by a third party on behalf of another living individual, appropriate and adequate proof of that individual’s consent or evidence of a legal right to act on behalf of that individual e.g. power of attorney must be provided by the third party. 

 

Requests on behalf of a child 

Even if a child is too young to understand the implications of subject access rights, information about them is still their personal information and does not belong to anyone else, such as a parent or guardian. 

So it is the child who has a right of access to the information held about them, even though in the case of young children these rights are likely to be exercised by those with parental responsibility for them. 

Before responding to a SAR for information held about a child, you should consider whether the child is mature enough to understand their rights. If the clinician responsible for the child’s treatment plan is confident that the child can be considered competent under Gillick/Fraser guidelines, has the capacity to understand their rights and any implications of the disclosure of information, then child’s permission should be sought to action the request. 

Further clarification guidance is still awaited in relation to the rights of children under GDPR/DPA18. 

The Information Commissioner (ICO) has indicated that in most cases it would be reasonable to assume that any child that is aged 12 years or more would have the capacity to make a subject access request and should therefore be consulted in respect of requests made on their behalf. 

The Caldicott Guardian should also be consulted on whether there is any additional duty of confidence owed to the child or young person as it does not follow that, just because a child has capacity to make a SAR, that they also have the capacity to consent to sharing their personal information with others as they may still not fully understand the implications of doing so. 

 

Requests for personal information – police/HMRC 

Requests for personal information may be made by the above authorities for the following purposes:

  • The prevention or detection of crime 
  • The capture or prosecution of offenders
  • The assessment or collection of tax or duty

A formal documented request signed by a senior officer from the relevant authority is required before proceeding with the request. 

The request must make it clear that one of the above purposes is being investigated and that not receiving the information would prejudice the investigation.

These types of requests must be considered by a senior manager or the SAR team before any decision or action is taken to release information. 

 

Court Orders 

All Court Order requesting personal information about an individual must be complied with. 

 

Subject Access Request Process 

Requests for information held about an individual must be directed to the Accountable Officer (the CEO) and/or the Clinical Services Manager.

The request will be logged and the requestor will be advised of the next steps. The requestor may be asked to complete an application form to better enable the Hospice to locate the relevant information.

It is important that a SAR is identified and sent to the Accountable Officer/Clinical Services Manager quickly in order for the request to be responded to within one month or receipt. 

 

Responding to requests 

A detailed procedure has been produced which gives full details as to how the Hospice responds to individual SAR.

It is essential though that a log of all requests received is maintained and includes:

  • Date received 
  • Date response due (within one month) Applicants details 
  • Information requested Exemptions applied, if applicable 
  • Details of decisions to disclose information without the subject’s consent (if applicable) Details of information to be disclosed and the format in which they were supplied When and how supplied (for example, hard copy and by post) 
  • Performance monitoring 

Rossendale Hospice will ensure that monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of SAR takes place on a regular basis. The Accountable Officer (CEO) will report progress reports to the Information Governance Committee and will include following:

  • Number of requests 
  • Incidents/Breaches in response times (detailed exception reports) 
  • Complaints

 

Freedom of Information (FOI) Policy 

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act (2000) came into effect for all public authorities in January 2005. Since then, all requests for information have had to be answered in accordance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

The Freedom of Information Act gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. Disclosures are subject to the application of relevant exemptions contained within the Act.

Under the Act, Rossendale Hospice must consider all requests for recorded information it receives and must: 

  • Inform the applicant whether the information is held 
  • Supply the requested information subject to the application of relevant exemptions contained within the Act 

We remain committed to promote a culture of openness and accountability to enable you to have a greater understanding of how we carry out our duties, how we make decisions and how we spend public money.

The FOIA is fully retrospective and covers all information held in a recorded format. The deadline for a public authority to respond to requests made under the Act is 20 working days, although there are some circumstances where this may be extended under the terms of the legislation. 

A request for information under the general rights of access must be: 

  • received in writing 
  • state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence 
  • clearly describe the information requested A request can also be made electronically via email. 

Exemptions 

The rights within the Act may be limited by applying certain exemptions. Several sections of the Act confer an absolute exemption on information. There are 23 exemptions from the rights of access under the Act. These exemptions mark out the limits of the right of access to information under the Act. Further details about applying exemptions can be obtained from the FOI team. 

Other sections of the FOI Act direct the Hospice to weigh up whether the public interest in maintaining the bar on confirmation/denial or in maintaining the exemption is greater than the public interest in disclosing whether the public authority holds the information, or in disclosing the information at all. In some cases, if an exemption applies RH may be obliged to disclose the information if the public interest test outweighs the exemption. 

 

Refusal of requests 

Rossendale Hospice is obliged to disclose information requested under the Act unless an exemption applies to the information requested. If RH refuse a request, the applicant should be informed, at the same time as notification of the exemption, of the procedure to follow if the requester is not satisfied. This procedure includes an internal review by RH, if the requester is not happy with the findings of the internal review then they should be directed to make a complaint to the ICO. Further details about dealing with FOI refusals should be sought from the Accountable Officer (the CEO)

If a request is made for information that is subject to a current piece of work and premature disclosure is not deemed in the public interest, then the Hospice can withhold the information temporarily. If withheld, then an indication of when the information will be available should be given. 

 

Release of employee names and details

As a public authority, there is a recognised justification for the disclosure of some employee names and contact details. Governing Body member and other staff members whose name are already published on the CCG’s websites will be released without seeking additional consent. 

Those staff with public facing roles will have work contact details routinely released however, for other staff, consent will normally be sought if release is deemed appropriate. Personal contact details (home address, home telephone number or personal email address) will never be released in response to a request under the Act. 

 

Time limits for compliance with requests 

Rossendale Hospice has a statutory obligation to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and has established systems and procedures to ensure that the organisation complies with the Act and to provide the information requested within 20 working days of a request.

Compliance with the 20-day time limit arising from FOI requests is also monitored.

If the Hospice choose to apply an exemption to any information, or it exceeds the appropriate limit for costs of compliance, a notice shall be issued within twenty working days informing the applicant of this decision. 

 

What to do if you receive a request for information 

 If a member of staff receives a request, it must be passed to the Accountable Officer (CEO) immediately. Failure to do this may result in a delay in processing the request and complying with the Law. 

All requests should be sent Rossendale Hospice, for the attention of the CEO

 

Monitoring and Evaluation 

RH will ensure that monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of FOI takes place on a regular basis. The Accountable Officer will report progress reports to the relevant groups and will include the following: 

  • Number of requests 
  • Breaches in response times (detailed exception reports) 
  • Justification of exemptions 
  • Complaints 
  • Any requests escalated to the ICO
 

Network and IT Security Policies 

Rossendale Hospice IT services are commission from by NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU who manage the network and IT security provision on our behalf .