NHS England has asked us to remind practices of the correct process to follow for redirecting confidential patient information.
Many items of mail that are sent in error to GPs - up to 10,000 each month - are being forwarded to PCSE rather than returned to the original sender, as they should be. Errors in the management of this NHS correspondence — such as test results and clinical notes, child protection notes, treatment plans and changes to patients’ medication regimes — expose patients to a risk of harm and disclosure of confidential information.
- If you receive correspondence which refers to a patient who is no longer registered with your practice and has re-registered elsewhere, or who has never been registered with your practice, return the items directly to the provider they came from as soon as possible using appropriate means.
- If the misdirected correspondence arrives at your practice electronically it should be returned to the original sender of the email, complete with any attachments, with advice that the patient is not registered at your practice and the correspondence must be re-directed.
On receipt, in both instances, the original sender of the correspondence – usually the NHS provider – is expected to track down the correct destination for the correspondence and update its own database to avoid further errors. NHS providers can access GP registration for every patient.
- If your practice receives correspondence in error which concerns safeguarding information, (for example about children at risk or vulnerable adults from a local authority) you must send it to the PCSE central postal address: Primary Care Support England, PO Box 350, Darlington, DL1 9QN via a secure route such as signed for delivery.
- If you receive clinical correspondence referring to a former patient of your practice who has died or is de-registered and your practice has returned the main record to PCSE, ALL types of correspondence listed above referring to that former patient must be moved to PCSE using the tracked record movement service as outlined in the advice on the PCSE website: https://pcse.england.nhs.uk/services/gp-records
- If you have a record or additional notes for a patient who is no longer registered at your practice, you can request a movement for these via PCSE Online. Please go to the ‘Records’ section to request a movement and complete the information required. A label for the record/additional notes movement will be delivered on your usual courier visit.
If you need to post anything back to PCSE it MUST go to the central postal address: Primary Care Support England, PO Box 350, Darlington, DL1 9QN.
Please do not send anything to primary care support local offices as these are now closed. Items which are sent to closed locations are in breach of Information Governance requirements which will require investigation and possible reporting to the Information Commissioner.