Data Protection, Confidentiality and Information Security Policy
The Bellsquarry Dentistry processes personal data that relate to employees and patients and is
therefore required by law to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), which protects the
privacy of individual personal data and ensures that they are processed fairly and laMully. The
Practice is committed to ensuring that it complies with the DPA and applies ethical principles to all
aspects of its work to protect the interests of employees and patients and maintain the confidentiality and security of any personal data held in any form by the practice. To do this, the Bellsquarry Dentistry will comply with the eight principles in the DPA. In summary these state that personal data shall be:
• fairly and lawfully processed;
• processed for limited purposes (i.e. obtained only for specified and lawful purposes and further processed only in a compatible manner);
• adequate, relevant and not excessive;
• accurate and up to date;
• not kept for longer than is necessary;
• processed in line with the individual's rights;
• Not transferred to countries outside the European Economic area without adequate
A shortened'Data Protection Policy for Patients' has been developed for patients.
This Data Protection, Confidentiality and Information Security Policy applies to all practice employees and others who have legitimate rights to access and use the practice's information systems.
Compliance with the DPA and this policy is the responsibility of all practice employeesand everyone who has access to practice records. A breach of this policy, whether deliberate or through negligence, could lead to disciplinary action being taken and possible investigation by the General Dental Council. A breach of the DPA could also lead to criminal prosecution.
The following table lists key responsibilities among the dental team [amend table, as appropriate].
Dental Team Member
Dr Emma-Louise Anne Colvin BDS DipDSed
Data Protection, Confidentiality and Information Security policy; deals with subject access requests made under the DPA and requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002; training of staff regarding data protection and confidentiality
Data controller (i.e. principal dentist who'owns'a patient list)
Compliance with the DPA and this Data Protection, Confidentiality and Information Security policy
Definition of Perconal Data Covered Under the DPA
The DPA covers all personal data, regardless of the format, that are stored in a 'relevant filing
system'. A relevant filing system means any system where information can be found relatively easily, even if it is not by a personalised index or key. In addition, information recorded with the intention that it will be put in a relevant filing system or held on computer is covered.
As an employer and to provide effective care for patients and provide care within the NHS system, the Practice processes prsonal data of employees and patients. Personal data means practically any information about, or correspondence relating to, a named individual. It includes both facts (e.g. treatment a patient has had) and opinions (e.9. any concerns the patient or dental team might have about the patient's dental health), including:
• personal information and contact details, including the patient's name, address and date of
• dental, social and medical histories (e.g. past or current medical conditions, current
medication, the name of the patient's GP, special needs);
• results of the examination of the patient's mouth and oral health, including x-rays and
• information about appointments;
• any treatments and their costs;
• any proposed care, including advice given to the patient and referrals the patient might
• any concerns that the patient or dental team might have;
• details of the patient's consent for specific procedures;
• correspondence with other healthcare workers that relates to the patient's care.
Procedures for Ensuring Compliance with the DPA and the Confidentiality and Security of Personal Data
To maintain a good patient-dental team relationship, it is essential that patients feel they can provide personal information to dental team members with the knowledge that this inforrnation will be kept securely and not shared unlawfully. It is also important that patients are able to provide, in confidence, full details of their medical, social and dental histories to facilitate safe and effective care.
To achieve this, all staff must follow the procedures listed below.
• Comply with the B principles outlined in the DPA and the General Dental Council principles set out in the 'Standards for Dental Professionals guidance, and in 'Principles of Patient Confidentiality' and' Principles of Patient Consent.
• Undergo training in processing personal data and confidentiality.
• Keep any personal data or confidential data that they hold, whether in electronic or paper format, securely, which includes:
- storing paper files with personal data in lockable filing cabinets that are locked when
authorised staff are not present to monitor access;
- storing electronic files containing personal data on password-protected computer systems;
- 'screen-locking' unattended computers;
- not sharing computer passwords with unauthorised people, not writing down passwords
and not keeping passwords on or near their computer; not forwarding emails containing personal data to internet email accounts as these are not
• holding personal data on laptops only where there is a clear business necessity and permission is sought from the Practice Manager (if there is a necessity, ensure it is fully encrypted);
• avoiding carrying personal data on removable media (e.g. memory sticks or CD-rams);
• not using unlicensed software on Practice computers;
Maintain the confidentiality of any personal data by, for example:
• ensuring that personal information is not disclosed either orally or in writing, accidentally or otherwise, to any unauthorised third party (e.g. avoid working on personal data such as application forms on public transport, do not discuss identifiable information about patients with anyone outside the practice, including friends, family and schools, or leave messages about a patient's care with an unauthorised third party or on an answering machine) (NB: this also applies after termination of employment);
• respecting patient privacy for discussions of a sensitive nature (e.g. discussion of medical information, payment, or asking patients for proof of exemption status);
• Share personal data only on a 'need to know' basis and following consent from the patient; for example:
• to another health professional for the provision of effective care and/or treatment;
Inform the Practice Manager, who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the DPA and this policy, of any suspected or actual breach of the DPA or this policy.
Data controllers are those who hold personal records (e.g. dentists who are the 'owner' of their own patient list). All data controllers must follow the procedures detailed above for staff, and the procedures listed below.
[Exactly who is required to register with the UK Information Commissioner depends on the practice set up. Please see advice in 'Ethical Practice; and amend this section as appropriate.]
• Register with the UK Information Commissioner.
• Keep the details of the registration up to date and renew this registration annually.
• All staff contracts and agreements include a clause regarding confidentiality of personal data.
• Keys for lockable storage cabinets are held only by dental team members who require regular
A continuity plan that includes procedures for protecting and restoring personal data is in place in the event of a major incident.
Sharing Personal Information
To provide the patient with appropriate care, we might need to share personal data with:
• another dentist or another health professional who is caring for the patient;
• the patient's GP;
• a laboratory;
• NHS payment authorities;
• the Inland Revenue;
• the Benefits Agency, if the patient is claiming exemption or remission from NHS charges;
• a private dental scheme, if the patient is a member.
In these cases, only the minimum information required will be shared.
Disclosure Without Consent
Exceptional circumstances might override the duty to maintain confidentiality. Where possible, we will inform the patient of requests to share personal information. The decision to disclose information must only be taken by senior staff. Examples include:
• situations where there is a serious public health risk or risk of harm to other individuals;
• when information is required by the police to prevent or detect crime or to apprehend or prosecute offenders (if not providing the information would prejudice these purposes);
• in response to a court order;
• to enable a dentist to pursue a legal claim against a patient.
Dr Colvin is responsible for making the decision regarding whether personal data should be disclosed.
Subject Access Requests
Individuals have a right under the DPA to have a copy of the information held about them on computer and in manual filing systems. This is known as the right of subject access. Parents also have rights to access their children's records if it is in the child's interest. The 'data controller' (i.e. the dentist) must make a judgement if a child or parent requests records (The DPA allows a young person of 12 years or more in Scotland, with sufficient capacity and maturity, to exercise their rights under the Act). A solicitor can request access with the consent of his client.
A data protection policy that outlines the personal data that are processed and the manner in which the data are processed is available for patients.
The Practice Managerdea ls with subject access requests and will respond to requests from patients or employees within 40 days of receipt of the request. A fee of £10 will be charged for this.