How we use your personal information
Patient and personal information
Information we record about you
The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides an emergency pre-hospital care and patient transport service throughout Greater London.
When you contact us as a patient, we collect information about you and keep records about the service we provide. We may also record information about you if you contact us for any other reason. This guidance explains the type of information we record about you, why this is necessary, and the ways in which this information may be used by the Service.
What type of information will we record about you?
We log details electronically when we receive a call for help or a booking for patient transport services that we operate.
If one of our ambulances attends you, or you are transferred between hospitals by ambulance, we will collect information about you to help us identify and treat you. This will be written on a patient clinical record along with details of your symptoms and condition, and any treatment we give you. We are also required to record details of your ethnicity and other information to help us monitor the equality of the services we provide.
If you receive patient transport services, we will record details about where you live, where we will be taking you and some details about your circumstances.
If you make a complaint or an enquiry about the service we have provided, or have contact with us on another matter, we will keep a record of all the relevant details in a file for case management purposes. In some cases, we may need to obtain information from the hospital we have taken you to in order to investigate a complaint or deal with an enquiry.
What happens to your clinical records?
If an ambulance takes you to hospital, we will give the hospital staff a copy of the written patient clinical record so that they have details of your condition and the treatment we have provided.
Other health and social care professionals involved in your treatment or care may ask us for information about your use of our services or the treatment you received. Provided we are satisfied that they do need this information for your care, or you have given permission, we will provide this to them.
In some circumstances, particularly if we do not take you to hospital, we may share information or clinical records with other healthcare professionals. Most commonly, this will be to your GP, but we may also pass your details to other specialist healthcare teams which might include people from other organisations, such as social services or education, to assess whether they can offer you support that may help to prevent a similar situation arising again.
We are sometimes also asked by the primary care trusts/ GP consortia that fund our services to provide information about incidents attended so they can identify and provide more appropriate care pathways for patients.
Where another NHS organisation is funding a patient transport service journey, we have to confirm this information – although we will provide only the details that are needed.
Records of the treatment and service we provide are retained securely for reference and will allow us to monitor how well we are providing our service.
Helping us to train our staff and monitor their work
Emergency ambulance staff may need to copy patient clinical records they have completed for their training, but they will blank out information which could identify you before they do this.
Monitoring the standard of care we provide and undertaking research
Anonymised information from patient clinical records is used for internal audit purposes and details of the emergency treatment and care we provide is sometimes used for research. We make sure ethical approval has been obtained in accordance with NHS guidelines before we release any information outside the organisation for research purposes and do not release information that could identify patients unless it is absolutely necessary.
Monitoring the standard of care provided within the NHS overall
We pass information to other NHS organisations as part of national initiatives to monitor the standard of care provided within the NHS as a whole. In all cases, we supply only the details that are needed for these purposes and, wherever possible, the information will be anonymised.
Analysis of incidents
We provide details of incidents attended by the London Ambulance Service to the Greater London Authority London Analysts Support Service which is used for the analysis and reduction of crime, but this is always anonymised and no patients or other individuals can be identified from this information.
Disclosure to third parties
We will not disclose your information to third parties (for instance outside the NHS) without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as when it is justified in the public interest; for example:
- when a serious crime has been committed;
- when there are serious risks to the public or NHS staff; or
- to protect children or vulnerable adults who are not able to decide for themselves whether their information should be shared.
or where the law requires information to be passed on; for example-
- Where a formal court order has been issued.
When we pass on any information we will ensure that the recipient is aware that it must be kept confidential and secure.
Complaints and enquiries
Files relating to complaints or enquiries we receive will only be seen by the staff who are dealing with the matter. We will only pass this to another organisation or body if you ask us to do this, for example, if you request that our response to your complaint is reviewed by a separate regulating body.
We may sometimes be asked for information about the service we have provided you with by other organisations investigating a complaint or enquiry you have made to them, or if you are pursuing a legal claim against them.
How do you know your records will be kept confidential?
All NHS organisations have a legal duty of confidence to their patients and the Data Protection Act 1998 further defines how we can collect and handle personal information. The NHS also has an additional set of guidelines, known as the Caldicott principles, which apply to the use of patient information. All NHS organisations are required to appoint a Caldicott Guardian to ensure patient information is handled in accordance with legal and NHS regulations.
We will seek your consent before we release information that identifies you to any third party for any other reason than those set out in this guidance and the regulations. We will not pass information that identifies you to another person or organisation (including friends or relatives) without your knowledge or permission unless we have an overriding legal duty to do so.
How long do we keep your records?
We retain medical records and details of 999 calls for 25 years. Other records that may contain information about you are kept for varying lengths of time, up to ten years.
Your rights over your information
You have a right to see all personal or clinical information we hold about you. However, please be aware that we are entitled to make a small charge to cover our costs.
If you believe any of the information we hold about you may not be accurate, or if you have any concerns about us collecting and using information about you as outlined here, you should contact our Patient Experiences Department.
How to obtain your personal information or request further details about the use of your information
The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to find out what information about you is held by the London Ambulance Service. This is known as “right of subject access”. It applies to your health records and all other personal information relating to you held by the Service.
If you want to make a subject access request for personal data held in respect of any services provided by the Trust you should make a written request (fax, email or letter) to:
Patient Experiences Department
Units 1&2 Datapoint Business Centre
6 South Crescent
Tel: 020 3069 0240
Fax: 020 3069 0239
A fee will apply. We will advise of this when we know what information you are seeking. For more information on the fee, please visit the NHS website.
The NHS Care Record Guarantee provides further detail, including 12 commitments to the handling, sharing, and use of your information, and you may obtain more detailed advice about the use of personal information from the Patient Experiences Department as detailed above.