This guidance cannot cover every situation where problems or challenges about confidentiality might come up. However, you should keep the following principles in mind when handling information. The guidance that follows builds on these principles to explain more.
- take all reasonable steps to keep information about service users safe;
- make sure you have the service user’s consent if you are passing on their information (unless there are good reasons not to, for example, it is necessary to protect public safety, prevent harm to other people or if you are legally required to pass this information);
- get express consent, in writing, if you are using identifiable information for reasons which are not related to providing care, treatment or other services for them;
- only disclose identifiable information if it is necessary, and, when it is, only disclose the minimum amount necessary;
- tell service users when you have disclosed their information (if this is practical and possible);
- keep appropriate records of disclosure;
- keep up to date with relevant law and good practice;
- if appropriate, ask for advice from colleagues, professional bodies, unions, legal professionals or us; and
- make your own informed decisions about disclosure and be able to justify them.