Privacy Statement - Introduction
The Hepatitis C Trust is committed to providing a confidential support and information service to its service users. The Hepatitis C Trust believes that principles of confidentiality must be integrated across all aspects of services and management.
Staff and volunteers of The Hepatitis C Trust must at all times be aware of the importance of maintaining confidentiality of information gained by them during the course of their duties. This will in many cases include access to personal information relating to service users. Given that this information is likely to include the hepatitis C status of service users and given the stigma still unfortunately associated with this virus, it is imperative that all information is treated in a discreet and confidential manner and particular attention is drawn to the following:
- Information regarding service users must not be disclosed either orally or in writing to unauthorised persons.
- Written records, computer records and correspondence pertaining to any aspect of the organisation’s activities must be kept securely at all times.
- All data held, its management and procedures, must conform to the requirements of the Data Protection Act (1998). Under the Act service users and staff have a right to access their records on application to the appropriate manager.
- If it is appropriate to share information gained in the course of your work with other staff or volunteers, you must make sure that as far as is reasonable this information will be kept in strict professional confidence and only be used for the purpose for which the information was given.
- Conversations relating to confidential matters affecting clients should not take place in situations where they may be overheard by passers-by, e.g., in corridors, reception areas etc.
- The same confidentiality must also be preserved in dealing with work related matters appertaining to work colleagues.
- Any breach of confidentiality may be regarded as gross misconduct and may be subject to summary dismissal.
Specific to the Helpline Service
The Hepatitis C Trust (THCT) is committed to providing a confidential support and information service to its Helpline users. THCT believes that principles of confidentiality must be integrated across all aspects of services and management. THCT believes its Helpline users deserve the right to confidentiality to protect their interests and to safeguard THCT’s services.
The following statement will be included in our information materials:
“The Hepatitis C Trust (THCT) offers a confidential service - nothing you say will be shared by us in a manner which identifies you with any other organisation or individual without your expressed permission unless we believe you, or someone else, is in serious danger. Copies of our full confidentiality procedure are available on request from THCT”.
- Information disclosed by callers will be confidential within staff and volunteers at The Hepatitis C Trust.
- Helpline staff will not pass on information to parties outside The Hepatitis C Trust without the verbal or written consent of the caller.
- Information recorded on the monitoring forms and/or on our database is solely used for monitoring and evaluating the Helpline service. Monitoring forms are kept in a locked filing cabinet and shredded and/or the Helpline database will have contact details purged every six months, unless otherwise requested by the Helpline user.
- If Helpline users request further information or wish to receive our newsletter, their contact details will be kept on a separate password protected database.
- Helpline staff must respect the caller’s right to remain anonymous.
- Helpline staff are advised to give only their first names to callers if they so wish. They must not give out either their, or their colleagues’, private addresses or telephone numbers.
- Both the confidentiality policy and the complaints procedure will be available on request by the Helpline user.
There may be occasions when confidentiality cannot and should not be given. These exceptional and extremely unusual circumstances can include:
Acts of Terrorism
If a caller wishes to disclose information subject to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, they will be informed that such information cannot be kept confidential and will be passed on to the police.
Serious risk of harm/suicidal callers
If a helpline worker has cause to believe that a caller is at serious risk of harm or suicide then they may need to break confidentiality. Wherever practical this will be disclosed to the caller at the time of the call.
Breaches of Confidentiality
THCT recognises that occasions may arise where the Helpline may need to breach confidentiality, however, any breach of confidentiality may damage the reputation of THCT and the Helpline service and therefore has to be treated with extreme caution. If, in the exceptional circumstances outlined above, a volunteer believes that confidentiality should be breached the following procedure should be followed:
- The volunteer should raise the matter immediately with the Head of Support Services or in their absence, the Chief Executive. The Head of Support Services / Chief Executive must take a written note of this discussion.
- The Chief Executive is responsible for making the decision on whether confidentiality should be breached and must feedback to the Trustees information on any cases of breaches of confidentiality.
- In no circumstances should any breach of confidentiality be discussed at this stage with a designated THCT Complaints Officer. This is to ensure that any future complaints or investigations arising from breach in confidentiality can be carried out in an independent manner.