The Occupational Health Service is confidential, independent, and advisory and does not have a disciplinary role.
In addition the service has a role within safety management and systems of work providing a healthy and safe environment to include advice on Health and Safety Legislation.
The Occupational Health Service staff will at all times maintain strict confidentiality in compliance with their professional ethics, the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and the Access to Health Records Act 1990.
A health/medical record consists of information relating to the physical or mental health of an individual who can be identified from that information or from that and other information in the possession of the holder of the record and has been made by or on behalf of a health professional in connection with the care of that individual.
All staff medical and administrative will be trained in confidentiality. The O.H.A./Coordinator will make administrative staff aware of their responsibility to keep all information confidential; This includes that they must not read the confidential hand written notes of the medical professionals, this will be explained orally and confirmed in writing and a signed confidentiality agreement by each individual concerned.
Employees have a right to expect that the Occupational Health Practitioners/administrative staff will not disclose any personal/medical information without them being notified. Information disclosed to Occupational Health Practitioners may then be disclosed to the employer with the informed consent of the employee (except when required by law, capable of justification by reason of the public interest, or in rare cases when required for medical research). Based on this information, the employer will make an opinion about an individual’s fitness for employment by using the Occupational Health advice and seeing if the adjustments/suitable alternatives suggested are practical.
When an Occupational Health Professional is responsible for confidential information they must make sure that the information is effectively protected against improper disclosure when it is disposed of, stored, transmitted or received.
When Occupational Health Professionals disclose information about employees/clients, the Occupational Health professionals must make sure the individual has consented to the release of this information (unless exceptional circumstances apply), and understands what will be disclosed, the reasons for disclosure, and the likely consequences. A copy of any information disclosed should be given to the individual at their request.
Occupational Health professionals must respect that in certain circumstances it maybe required that information should not be disclosed to third parties, save in exceptional circumstances (for example where health or safety of others would otherwise be at serious risk).
If Occupational Health professionals disclose confidential information then they should only release as much as is necessary for the purpose.
Occupational Health professionals must make sure that those to whom they disclose information understand that it is given to them in strict confidence, which they must respect.
The Data Protection Act 1998 allows healthcare professionals to restrict access to information they hold on a person in their care, if that information is likely to cause serious harm to the individual or another person.
In disclosure of confidential information Occupational Health Professionals must be able to support that it is for legitimate and justifiable reasons.
In certain circumstances it may be necessary for wider disclosure information in the interest of others.
The General Medical Council guidelines state:
- Disclosure may be necessary in the public interest where a failure to disclose information may expose a patient or others, to risk of death or serious harm. In such circumstances the Occupational Health professional should disclose information promptly to an appropriate person or authority.
Such circumstances may arise, for example, where:
A colleague who is also a patient is placing patients at risk as a result of illness or other medical condition. Disclosure is necessary for the prevention or detection of serious crime.
Every effort will be made to try to persuade the individual to be honest about their medical condition or whatever matter is causing the concern, or at least to give the occupational health professional permission to speak about it. If a foreseeable risk of serious harm or death, then it will be necessary to breach confidentiality. Every effort will be made to gain the support of the individual to disclose.
Information given by employees/clients re new-employment screening/management referral or obtained from a previous employer or education provider about medical history including sickness absence, relevant hospital admissions and medications must be recorded. This information will, if the person is recruited, form part of his or her occupational health records.
Where the amounts of sickness absence, or other factors, require an Occupational Health Practitioner to gain further medical information regarding an employee’s condition and further information is required concerning the past medical history, this may be obtained from the applicant’s GP. This process will require the applicants signed consent (Access to Medical Records) and they must be told precisely what information is being requested and why before fully informed consent can be obtained. A copy of the person’s consent together with a copy of the gp/specialist request letter should be sent to the GP/specialist with a request for specific information.
The occupational health service will make clear what information they are seeking from the applicant’s GP, taking account of the “Access to Medical Reports Act 1988” advising the applicant of their rights and respecting confidentiality of any clinical information obtained. (Because this service falls outside the provision of general medical services GP’s can be expected to charge employers for this service). Clinical judgements must be based on justifiable occupational health standards. Judgmental perceptions and value judgements made about people with disabilities or impairments are unacceptable.
If you wish to access your medical records, we would encourage this to be done in writing to Occupational Health. This can be done via:
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or
- written request to: Occupational Health Centre, Block 4, St David’s Park, Jobswell Road, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, SA31 3HB.
- Verbal requests can also be taken (verbal proof of identity checks will be taken. If further proof of identification is required e.g ID card/driving license, Occupational Health have the right to request this)
You must state who the records are to be released to and you address, and date of birth/employee number, which part of records you wish to be released if you do not want the whole record to be accessed. If you request copies of your records by mail, you must arrange to collect it in person from the Occupational Health Centre and show proof of identity. You must sign and date the request if request is made via mail.
Access will be given within a month of the request being received. In no circumstances will any records be faxed to an individual.
If a request is made via email, the Occupational Health Centre will send the records electronically via a secure email exchange system.
Copies of documents not originating in Occupational Health should be sought from the author, however if an employee insists, they (delete) you have the right to obtain copies of their whole record recorded after November 1991 from the Occupational Health Centre.
You have a right to access personal data processed about you by the Council, including the information used by the Occupational Health Centre. Where you (deleted) exercise this right and the scope of the request includes Occupational Health information, it will be necessary to share our records with the Information & Data Protection Officer and other officers where required, in order to comply with our legal obligations under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and after 25th May 2018, the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation.
Our privacy notice also gives an overview of how our service processes your information: Privacy Notice
The duty of confidentiality continues after the death of an individual to whom that duty is owed. Please contact the Occupational Health Co-ordinator if you require any further information regarding confidentiality information.
- NHS Confidentiality Code of Practice (Department of Health, November 2003)
- The Data Protection Act 1998
- The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives(2008) Nursing & Midwifery Council
- Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1998
- Public Health Act 1984
- The Management of Health, Safety and Welfare Issues for NHS Staff HSG(98)064
- HSC2000/019 Appointment Procedures for Hospital and Community Medical and Dental Staff.
- Duties of a Doctor. Guidance from the General Medical Council GMC.
- Guidance on Ethics The faculty of Occupational Medicine.
- UKCC Guidance leaflets (various)
- Access to Medical Reports Act 1988.
- Access to Health Records Act 1990
- Lynn Holland ( 2012) Occupational Health Consultant, RN Dip OH RSCHN (OH)
- Information Commissioners office (2012)
Page updated: 03/07/2020 16:05:41