Confidentiality Procedures

At Horsforth Dental we are aware that our duty to keep all patient information confidential extends to all interactions we have with our patients and to all areas in which confidentiality could be compromised. We therefore have strict procedures in place that all team members are required to comply with at all times.

General confidentiality

We take great care to ensure that patients are not placed in a position in which they are disclosing personal information in earshot of others who should not be able to overhear the conversation.

When recording personal details such as addresses, phone number we ask you to disclose this information on our confidential medical history forms. Details obtained this way are then inputted into our computerised notes.

When gathering information such as medical histories ask you to fill in a confidential medical history which you can take with you into the dental surgery. Medical Histories are regularly updated verbally with your dentist.

When calling patients in from the waiting room we ask reception to call the next patient into the surgery. Should you not wish for name to be called out please let our reception staff know.

When sending confidential information, we use a secure method. When sending or storing confidential information electronically, we ensure that it is encrypted.  Your personal data is protected by a secure firewall and is password protected. Emails sent regarding NHS patients are sent securely via an NHS.net Email account.

Disclosing personal information about patients

We take great care to ensure that we only disclose personal information about a patient when we have consent to do so.  To help us achieve this we ensure that:

  • We do not leave messages with a 3rd party confirming or cancelling appointments, unless we have consent to do so.
  • When leaving messages on patients’ answerphones we ask only that a patient calls us back. We do not leave any details, including that the patient has an appointment with us unless we have the patient’s consent.
  • We do not share information with anyone about the fact that a patient:
    • Has an appointment.
    • The date or timing of an appointment.
    • The type of treatment.
    • The fees due for treatment.
  • In the event that a patient consents to us sharing information about their appointment with another named individual we ensure that we only share information we have consent to share.
  • We ensure that all personal information about patients is stored securely and cannot be accessed by anyone without authority to see it.
  • We aim to ensure patients cannot see a list of other patients who have appointments on any given day. To achieve this, we ensure that daylists are not left lying around and are confidentially shredded at the end of the day and we aim to ensure that patients cannot accidentally see a daylist on the computer screen.

Circumstances in which we may disclose information to third parties

There are certain restricted circumstances in which a clinician may decide to disclose information to a third party or may be required to disclose by law.

Responsibility for disclosure rests with the patient’s clinician and under no circumstances can any other team member make a decision to disclose information.

In any circumstance where a clinician decides to release confidential information, they should be prepared to explain and justify their decision and any action they take.

Any GDC registrant who is unsure of whether they should or should not release confidential information about a patient should obtain advice from their defence organisation.

When disclosure can be made

There are circumstances when personal information can be disclosed:

  • Where the patient has given consent to the disclosure. Please see above for detailed guidance on this. Note -Patients must be given the opportunity to withhold permission and they must be given the opportunity to withdraw permission previously given.
  • Where disclosure is necessary for the purpose of enabling someone else to provide health care to the patient and the patient has consented to this sharing of information
  • Where the wider public interest outweighs the rights of the patient to confidentiality. This might include cases where disclosure would prevent a serious future risk to the public or assist in the prevention or prosecution of serious crime.

Where disclosure is required by statute or is ordered by a court of law, we would only release the minimum information needed to follow the order. 

Confidential storage of patients’ personal information 

Paper records

Our paper records are stored in lockable filing cabinets that are locked overnight and when the practice is unattended

Electronic records

Our electronic patient records are password protected with restricted access.  Records are backed up daily with backups stored off the premises.  All team members have their own password and this is never given to anyone else.

Confidentiality agreement

All Horsforth Dental team members are bound by a confidentiality agreement as part of their conditions of engagement or terms of service.  Any breach of confidentiality is viewed extremely seriously and is likely to result in disciplinary proceedings.