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).

Clinical notes are made during the consultation that you have with the OHA or OHP. These are kept securely in the OH department, and are accessible only to the OHA, the OHP, and to carefully chosen administrative staff who assist with the running of the department. 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. questionnaires, or records of any Occupational Health assessments; Management referral reports and referral requests.

Reports to your Manager and HR

If you have been referred by either your manager or by HR, then Occupational Health 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 opinion on any supportive steps the University could consider as a result of this.  Occupational Health may also be asked to advise on your fitness to attend a meeting with your manager; 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. however, we ask that if you do this then you should review it as within 3 working days and contact the Occupational Health department to correct any factual inaccuracies. We will aim to send this to you, password protected, via email 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 Occupational Health within the  specified 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. 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 you will still receive a copy, this will be sent at the same time as to your manager.

Breaching confidentiality

Information held in the OH department will only be shared without your consent in exceptional circumstances such as -

  1. Where necessary in the public interest e.g. to protect you or someone else from the risk of significant harm
  2. Where required by law.

If it is necessary to break confidentiality for the above reasons this will be discussed with you if possible.

Access to Medical Reports Act

It may be beneficial to request additional information from your GP or specialist, in order to do this 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 Occupational Health in confidence and not be released to your Manager or HR. Your Occupational Health clinician 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).

Non-medical information

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. 

Accessing your Medical Records

If you would like a copy of your Occupational Health records you will need to complete the subject access request process.