8. Developing and maintaining excellent care
This section is really aimed at doctors and healthcare managers, but you should know about it too.
8c. Public health surveillance, confidentiality and information governance
It’s important to keep records, or data, about how many people are newly diagnosed with HIV. A record must also be kept of the number of people who are living with HIV and accessing care and treatment. This is called public health surveillance. The data is used to measure how well the ways to prevent HIV are working. It can also show how well HIV treatment is working overall, and this information can be used to plan and commission services for people living with HIV. It is also used to make sure that everyone in the UK is treated fairly and equally. The way this data is collected means that someone cannot identify you personally from it. All data is kept confidential.
Your personal medical information can only be used if you agree to it – you give consent. Sometimes, consent is ‘implied’, for example, when information has to be shared with other doctors who are looking after any complex health needs. However, that information should be shared only within that team. Consent for public health surveillance data is also implied consent.
There may be other circumstances where your clinical team may wish to share your data with someone else, for example, for research purposes. If this is the case, you should always be told what your data might be used for, and you can decide whether to agree. This is ‘explicit’ consent.
All your data should be held securely. You have the right to access your records and to have any factual inaccuracies corrected.