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Using and disclosing patient information for secondary purposes

77. Many important uses of patient information contribute to the overall delivery of health and social care. Examples include health services management, research, epidemiology, public health surveillance, and education and training. Without information about patients the health and social care system would be unable to plan, develop, innovate, conduct research or be publicly accountable for the services it provides.

78. There are also important uses of patient information that are not connected to the delivery of health or social care, but which serve wider purposes. These include disclosures for the administration of justice, and for purposes such as financial audit and insurance or benefits claims.

79. Anonymised information will usually be sufficient for purposes other than the direct care of the patient and you must use it in preference to identifiable information wherever possible. If you disclose identifiable information, you must be satisfied that there is a legal basis for breaching confidentiality.

80. You may disclose personal information without breaching duties of confidentiality when any of the following circumstances apply.

a. The disclosure is required by law, including by the courts (see paragraphs 87–94).

b. The patient has given explicit consent (see paragraph 95).

c. The disclosure is approved through a statutory process that sets aside the common law duty of confidentiality (see paragraphs 103–105).

d. The disclosure can, exceptionally, be justified in the public interest (see paragraphs 106–112).

You must also be satisfied that the other relevant requirements for disclosing information are met (see paragraph 10).