I don’t want just anyone looking at my personal information – who’ll get to see it?

The only people who’ll be able to look at your records on the Birmingham and Solihull Health Information Exchange (HIE) will be health and social care professionals. They’ll have to be directly involved in your care and work for one of your local organisations.

Who runs the Birmingham and Solihull HIE?

The NHS and local councils in Birmingham and Solihull own and are responsible for the HIE.

Why should I allow my records to be shared?

There are a number of reasons. For instance:

  • you won’t have to repeat your details every time you need care
  • clinicians will be able to see what medications you’re taking and if you have any allergies, making your treatment safer
  • they’ll also be able to make better decisions about your care by knowing your recent history – things such as tests, scans, results and prescriptions
  • you won’t have to explain your social care support to health professionals
  • you’ll get more efficient treatment because clinicians won’t have to wait for other organisations to forward your information by letter or phone.

Is everybody in the country doing this?

The Health Information Exchange is local – just for Birmingham and Solihull. But similar approaches to sharing information are also happening in other parts of the country.

Surely all the places I’ve had care already have my information?

They’ll all have their own separate records about the treatment or care you’ve had from them. So, for instance, your GP will have information, while any hospital where you’ve had treatment will have its own. It’s the same across all the services that have cared for you.

Now though, as most of these records are electronic, we can start to join them up. By letting the people involved in your care see the bigger picture, you’ll get better care.

My GP is just outside the Birmingham and Solihull areas, but I live inside the boundary. Will I still be included?

Right now, only people registered with a GP practice that’s in the Birmingham and Solihull areas will have their GP information included in the Birmingham and Solihull Health Information Exchange.

So, if your GP is over the border, the records they hold for you won’t be included – but any information on treatment or care you might have from organisations in Birmingham or Solihull will.

We’re working closely with our surrounding areas. As the project grows, we’re hoping to involve more organisations from those areas.

How do I know my information will be safe?

We will only use your information to support your care. We won’t sell it or give it to anyone who shouldn’t have it.

The NHS and local councils are bound by the Data Protection laws to make sure they keep safe all information they hold on you. They take this duty very seriously – and not just at the highest level of their organisation. They also train all their staff to understand their personal responsibilities under the law when it comes to your records. Staff must also follow the NHS and local council codes of conduct on respecting your privacy and keeping your information safe.

You can find out more about how the NHS looks after your health records on the NHS Choices website. You can do the same for social care records by visiting the Birmingham City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council websites.

I’d like to know what information is held on me – how can I find out?

Data Protection laws give you the right to see any information that organisations like the NHS and local councils hold on you.

Whether paper, electronic or a combination of the two, you just need to ask the particular organisation involved. You can find out how by looking at the Fair Processing Notice or Privacy Notice on their website.

What happens to anything in my records that might be sensitive?

There are some pieces of information we won’t share through the Health Information Exchange. Things, for instance, such as visits to sexual health clinics, any fertility treatment records, and those about gender reassignment.

We’ll have a Data Sharing Agreement to make sure this kind of information is not included, in line with legal and statutory requirements, and concerns around sensitivity.

Can I stop my information being shared?

Yes – you can object to the HIE, which means we won’t share your information in this way. However, we don’t recommend this as information that could be vital when you need health or social care support might not be immediately to hand as a result.

If you do object, organisations will still share your information as part of your direct care or treatment, but it will be by phone, email or on paper – as it is now.

I’ve already opted out. Can I change my mind?

If, at some point in the past, you’ve said no to sharing your information, you can change your mind at any time. You can do this by telling each of the health and care organisations where you’ve previously opted out. So, for instance, if you’ve already said no to sharing your information at two different organisations, you’ll need to tell them both.

You’ll also need to email the HIE central team to have the change made on the HIE system. This will mean all professionals directly involved in your care will then be able to see your records without you needing to give your approval each time.

While the HIE will pick up certain types of information from your GP records for the time during which you didn’t want them shared, this won’t happen for any other health or care organisations. Instead, the HIE will only share information they hold on you from the date the HIE team deals with your request to change your mind.