NAT has launched a new guide for people living with HIV explaining the basic principles of confidentiality in healthcare. The guide, ‘Personal information and the NHS’, goes through common concerns that people living with HIV might have about their HIV status, explains how their personal information will be handled, and gives practical advice about what to do if they have any concerns.
This guide is an important tool for people living with HIV to help them understand their rights when it comes to their confidentiality. It encourages them to ask questions and make concerns known, which NAT hope will lead to better practice from healthcare professionals. If a person with HIV feels that their personal information may have been handled inappropriately, they should feel armed with the facts so they can take action.
Confidentiality is protected in the NHS in the following ways:
• NHS staff should not talk about a patient to anyone else either inside or outside the NHS without the patient’s consent; this includes to family members and friends of the patient.
• NHS staff should not leave names visible anywhere. They should therefore cover up names on paper files or close down electronic medical records.
• All paper records should be kept in a secure place and all computerised records should have electronic protections such as secure logins and passwords.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:
‘Many people living with HIV have experienced concerns relating to confidentiality of their status and in healthcare this is especially important. In order to receive the best healthcare, sometimes this does mean sharing your personal information but people living with HIV should be able to do that and feel confident that their information will only be shared appropriately and with their consent. NAT has developed this guide in order to set out the basic principles of confidentiality within the NHS, as it can be a confusing area and many people do not fully understand what the rules – or their rights – are.’