Information about your health and care helps us to improve your individual care, speed up diagnosis, plan your local services and research new treatments. In May 2018, the strict rules about how this data can and cannot be used were strengthened. The NHS is committed to keeping patient information safe and always being clear about how it is used.
You can choose whether your confidential patient information is used for research and planning.
How your data is used
Your health and care information is used to improve your individual care. It is also used to help us and other organisations for research and planning such as research into new treatments, deciding where to put GP clinics and planning for the number of doctors and nurses in your local hospital. It is only used in this way when there is a clear legal basis to use the information to help improve health and care for you, your family and future generations.
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 and 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?
It is 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 may 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, choosing to opt out will not affect how information is used to support your care and treatment. Your confidential information will still be used for your individual care. You will still be invited for screening services, such as screenings for bowel cancer.
What do you need to do?
If you are happy for your confidential patient information to be used for research and planning, you do not need to do anything.
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.
You can change your choice at any time.
To find out more about the benefits of data sharing, how data is protected, or to make or change your opt-out choice visit www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters or call 0300 3035678.