Support & well-being
Confidentiality and record keeping in Occupational Health
The Occupational Health Adviser (OHA, who is a nurse) and Occupational Health Physician (OHP, who is a doctor) owe you a duty of confidentiality, this means that they cannot share medical information about you with others without your consent. This is a requirement of the professional conduct codes and ethics stipulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (for the OHA) and the General Medical Council (for the OHP)
Written notes are made after any meetings you have with the OHA or OHP (and most phone conversations as well). These are kept securely in the OH department, and are accessible only to the OHA, the OHP, and to carefully chosen clerical staff who assist with filling. All non-health professionals sign an additional 'non-disclosure' confidentiality agreement which is binding on their employment.
Your OH records will also include forms you may have filled in e.g. pre-employment forms, or records of any medical checks done in OH; reports written by OH; and any messages or requests received by OH which are about you, including relevant emails written by managers or Human Resources (HR).
Reports to your Manager and HR
If you have been referred by either your manager or by HR, then OH will be asked to provide a report for them. The report will focus on the effects of any health problem you have on your ability to work, and the OH opinion on any supportive steps the University could consider as a result of this. Details of your medical condition will only be included with your express consent. OH may also be asked to advise on your fitness to attend a meeting with management; the usual rules of confidentiality apply in these cases too.
We will discuss with you the information we intend to include in any report. You may request to see the report before it is sent to your Manager/ HR representative. This is recognised good ethical practice for OH practitioners. However, we ask that if you do this then you should review it as soon as possible (preferably within 3 working days) after receiving it and contact the OH department to either correct any factual inaccuracies, or to approve the report. The OH practitioner will aim to send this to you via email whenever possible for expediency and your response should ideally be by email. You will not be able to change the medical opinion of the OH practitioner.
If you decline to give consent for release of the report, or do not respond to OH in a reasonable timeframe (this will be taken as a 'declined to consent' situation), then your Manager/ HR representative will be informed of this. They will then manage your case without the benefit of OH advice; be aware this could have detrimental consequences to your employment. Please do discuss this fully with the OH practitioner first, as often we can reassure you about any concerns you may have.
If you do not request to see the report before sending to HR or your manager then you will receive a copy too.
Information held in the OH department will only be shared without your consent in exceptional circumstances such as -
- Where necessary in the public interest e.g. to protect you or someone else from the risk of significant harm
- Where required by law
If we feel it necessary to break confidentiality for the above reasons this will be discussed with you if at all possible.
Data Protection Act
The storage and handling of medical records in the OH department falls under the remit of the Data Protection Act. You have the right to either see or receive a copy of any of your records; to do this you should make a formal application through the University’s Data Protection officer; for more info please click here.
You will not be allowed to see any part of the record which it is believed may put you at risk of harm; or if the record contains any confidential information about someone else.
OH records records will be kept for the following periods:
- 40 years from date of last entry in the case of COSHH records, in support of the HSE 'Health Record' requirement*
- 50 years from date of last entry in the case of Ionising Radiation records, in support of the HSE 'Health Record' requirement*
- 10 years for standard employment records after an employee leaves Loughborough University, unless there are any HSE requirments then the above will apply
(* a Health Record is a non-confidential record of the outcome of an employee's Health Surveillance assessments, held by management. Whereas the HSE does not stipulate the storage of confidential OH records for this long, it is widely accepted within the speciality of Occupational Medicine that retention of such records is in accordance with medico-legal best practice, as it supports the identification of potential latent disease in the future.)
Access to Medical Reports Act
If we need to get a report from your GP or specialist, we will need your consent. This report is only to gain up to date medical information in your case, and the report will be kept by OH in confidence and not be released to your Manager or HR. OH will interpret the report, discuss it with you and then suggest a suitable OH report to be sent to your Manager or HR (see section above re: OH reports).
If you would like to know more about your rights under the Access to Medical Reports Act and see an example of a consent form, please see here:
Information such as:
- confirming that you did/ didn't attend an OH consultation;
- Royal Mail 'Track and Trace' receipts confirming delivery of appointment letters;
- informing managers that you declined to provide consent for an OH report
Are not classed as "medical in confidence" information and will be released to Management/ HR as applicable.