NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) is hosted by NHS England and provides a range of commissioning support services to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and other organisations. The purpose of this notice is to inform you of the type of information (including personal information) that the CSU processes on behalf of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and other organisations we support, how that information is used, with whom we may share that information and how we keep it secure and confidential.
We keep a register of all our information processing activities, including those involving the use personal information. This records lots of metadata including where we get the information from, with whom we share it, the legal basis allowing us to process personal data and the security arrangements in place.
How we use information
We use anonymous information for statistical purposes to allow us to help CCGs plan the commissioning of healthcare services. Examples of this include:
- Evaluation and review of services such as checking their quality and efficiency.
- Checking NHS accounts and services.
- Working out what illnesses people will have in the future so that CCGs can work with the local primary care services, community services and hospital services to make sure that patient needs are met.
- Preparing statistics on NHS performance.
- Reviewing the care the CCGs commission to make sure it is of the highest standard.
- We also carry out business to business marketing with potential customers but only where customers have agreed to receive this information.
Personal and confidential information
For the purposes listed above, we will only use anonymised data which means that individuals can not be identified. We can only use any information that may identify individuals (known as personal information) in accordance with Data Protection legislation and other laws such as the Health and Social Care Act 2012. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents and https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/12/contents/enacted
We also have a duty of confidentiality to protect your information. This means that where a legal basis for using your personal or confidential information does not exist, we will not do so.
Therefore, as a commissioning support organisation we do not routinely hold medical records or confidential patient data. There are some specific areas, however, because of our responsibilities, where we do hold and use personal information. In order to process that information we will have met a legal requirement and will use only the minimum data required for the purposes of that processing. The law allows processing of personal information under the following circumstances:
- We have received consent from individuals to be able to use their information for one or more specific purposes.
- For the performance of a contract involving an individual
- There is a legal requirement that will allow us to use or provide information
- For protecting the vital interests of a person or persons
- There is substantial public interest in using the information e.g. in order to safeguard an individual, or to prevent a serious crime.
- It is necessary for the legitimate interests of the organisation or a third party however this does not extend to public authorities
- If the personal information has been purposefully made public by the individual to which it relates
- For employment and social security purposes
- For the provision of health and social care or treatment
- It is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims
- For reasons of public interest regarding public health and safety of others, for example to report an infectious disease such as meningitis or measles.
- We have special permission called a ‘section 251 agreement’ (Section 60 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 as re-enacted by Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006) which allows the Secretary of State for Health to make regulations to set aside the common law duty of confidentiality for defined medical purposes. A section 251 agreement supports the use of patient identifiable information without consent.
The areas where we use personal information are:
- Individual Funding Requests – a process where patients and their GPs or Consultants can request treatments not routinely funded by the NHS. The legal basis allowing us to process such requests on behalf of a commissioner is explicit consent.
- Assessments for continuing healthcare assessments (a package of care for those with complex medical needs). The legal basis allowing us to process such requests on behalf of a commissioner is explicit consent.
- Responding to your queries, concerns or complaints. The legal basis allowing us to process such requests on behalf of a commissioner is explicit consent.
- Validation of invoices to ensure that providers are reimbursed correctly for the care and treatment they have delivered to patients. This is allowed under a section 251 agreement.
- To identify specific patient groups and enable clinicians with the duty of care for the patient to offer appropriate care and treatment; this is known as risk stratification. This is allowed under a section 251 agreement.
Our communications and engagement service collects contact details of members of the public and will contact patients regarding NHS services but only where the individual has explicitly consented to this.
International GP recruitment – NECS hosts an enquiry line available to any GPs who would like to enquire about how to become a GP in England and any aspects of the process which they would need to follow. We also track progress for GP international recruitment applications. We do this with the consent of the individual. There are numerous stakeholders involved in the programme and as such the contact information from any GPs may be shared with the following in order to progress their query:
- Health Education England
- NHS England
- General Medical Council
- Royal College of General practitioners
- GP National Recruitment Office
- British Medical Association
- Approved International Recruitment agencies
- South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit
- Information about our own employees and those of the customers for whom we provide an HR service for the purposes of employment.
We process and share anonymised statistical information with CCGs for the purpose of improving local services, for example understanding how conditions spread across our local area compared against other areas.
We process personal data as described above and have been granted a legal basis for processing data in this way which operates under strict controls to ensure your information is handled lawfully. We are an established Accredited Safe Haven which allows us to use limited personal data lawfully for specific purposes and operate a Controlled Environment for the processing of invoices.
Keeping information secure and confidential
All staff have contractual obligations of confidentiality, enforceable through disciplinary procedures. All staff receive annual training on confidentiality and security of information.
We take relevant organisational and technical measures to make sure that the information we hold is secure – such as holding information in secure locations, restricting access to information to authorised personnel, secure email systems and ensuring that mobile equipment such as laptops are encrypted.
Each NHS organisation has a senior person responsible for protecting the confidentiality of patient information and enabling appropriate information sharing. This person is called the Caldicott Guardian. The Caldicott Guardian for the CSU is Dr James Gossow. We also have a Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) who has allocated lead responsibility to ensure organisational information risk is properly identified, managed and that appropriate assurance mechanisms exist. The SIRO for the CSU is Barbara Sword, Company Secretary.
Retention of information
We retain personal information in accordance with data protection legislation and in line with the Records Management Code of Practice for Health and Social Care 2016. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/records-management-code-of-practice-for-health-and-social-care
Retention periods are recorded in our Register.
We record any instances where we transfer personal information to a third country or international organisation. This is very limited and we check and record the safeguards in place to protect the information to be transferred.
Right of access to your personal information
We will tell you if we use your personal information, what that information is and why we use it. We will also tell you where we obtained the information from and with whom we share your information. Under this right we also have to tell you how long we intend to keep your information.
You are entitled to obtain a copy of the personal information held about you by the CSU. Any request to access or obtain a copy of this information will be considered in line with the data protection legislation. This is generally free of charge unless your request is very complicated and/or unreasonably excessive; if you require further copies of information already provided to you we may charge a reasonable administrative fee.
If the information we hold is as a ‘data processor’ on behalf of a ‘data controller’, such as a Clinical Commissioning Group, for example Continuing Health Care records, you will need to apply to the CCG. CCGs have details as to how to apply on their web sites.
To make a request for personal information which NECS holds about you as a data controller, for example personnel/employee records email NECSU.IG@nhs.net or write to:
Information Governance Team
John Snow House
University Science Park
Right to rectification
This right allows you to ask for any information you believe to be inaccurate or incomplete to be corrected and completed. We are allowed one month (30 days) from the date of your request in which to perform any such corrections or add supplementary statements.
We will communicate any rectification of information to anyone to whom it has been disclosed unless this is not possible or involves disproportionate effort. We will tell you who those recipients are if you ask us.
Right to erasure
This right is also commonly referred to as the ‘right to be forgotten’. You can request that your information be erased, subject to certain exemptions, if it is no longer needed by us for the original purpose we said we would use it for or if you decide to withdraw your consent or if you object to the use of your information. If it transpires that the information was unlawfully used or is found to infringe the law you can ask for it to be erased. We will erase your information if we have a legal obligation to do so. We will communicate any erasure of information to anyone to whom it has been disclosed unless this is not possible or involves disproportionate effort. We will tell you who those recipients are if you ask us.
Right to restriction of processing
Restriction means marking information with the aim of limiting its processing in the future. Under this right you can request we restrict information processing for a period of time if you think the information is inaccurate, while we check its accuracy. If the information is found to have been used unlawfully you can ask for it to be restricted instead of being erased. If we no longer need to keep the information but you need us to keep it in connection with a legal claim you are involved with you can ask us to restrict it. You can also ask us to restrict processing if you have previously objected to us processing it whilst we check whether our legitimate reasons for processing it outweigh your right.
Once processing has been restricted we can start to use the information again only if you have consented to this or where it is in connection with a legal claim or if it is to protect the rights of another person or there is a strong public interest. We will tell you before any restriction we have put in place is lifted.
We will communicate any restriction of processing to anyone to whom it has been disclosed unless this is not possible or involves disproportionate effort. We will tell you who those recipients are if you ask us.
Right to data portability
The purpose of this new right is to give a person more control over their personal information. Data Portability means you have the right to receive a copy of personal information which you have given us in a structured, commonly-used, machine-readable format and to have it transferred directly to another ‘controller’ where technically possible. This right only applies to information which is processed by automated means and where you have given consent to the processing or where processing is necessary for the performance of a contract. It does not apply if the processing is needed to comply with a legal obligation, our official duties or is for a task carried out in the public interest. It is therefore unlikely to apply to any of the processing carried out by NECS.
Right to object
You can object to the processing of your personal information if the processing activity is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in connection with our lawful, official duties or those of a third party, or a task carried out in the public interest.
We could refuse to comply with a request only where we could show that there was an overriding legal reason or if we need to process the information in relation to a legal claim.
You also have a separate right to object to processing if it is for direct marketing purposes. We do not use your information in this way but if we did we would tell you about it.
This right also includes a specific right to object to research uses except where this is done in the public interest.
Automated decision-making, including profiling
Profiling means any form of automated processing (i.e. processed by a computer and not a human being) of personal information used to analyse, evaluate or predict things about someone; this can include things like someone’s health, personal preferences, interests, economic situation, reliability, performance at work behaviour, location or movements.
Under this right you can ask not to be subject to a decision made solely by automated means, including any profiling, which affects you in a legal way or has a similar significant effect. Automated decision-making and profiling is not allowed if it involves certain types of information; these ‘special categories’ of information are deemed to carry more sensitivity therefore we cannot use your health information for automated decision-making or profiling unless we have your explicit consent or there is substantial public interest allowing us to do so.
We currently do not carry out any automated decision-making, including profiling.
Where processing is based on consent you have the right to withdraw consent to process your personal data.
Right to complain to the information commissioner’s office
You have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner if you think any processing of your personal data infringes data protection legislation.
Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745
Visit the ICO website
Data Protection Officer (DPO)
NHS England has appointed deputy DPOs within their Commissioning Support Units who have delegated responsibility for some of the NHS England DPO’s functions. The delegated DPO tasks are as follows:
(a) to inform and advise the controller or the processor and the employees who carry out processing of their obligations under data protection
(b) to monitor compliance with GDPR
(c) to provide advice regarding data protection impact assessments
(d) to cooperate with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in relation to any serious incident (level 2) resulting in the unlawful loss or disclosure of personal data by the Commissioning Support Unit
(e) to act as the contact point for the ICO on issues relating to processing, including prior consultation and to consult, where appropriate, with regard to any other matter
The DPO for NECS is Liane Cotterill, who can be contacted at NECSU.IG@nhs.net