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NHS Care Record Guarantee

The NHS Care Record Guarantee for England sets out the rules that govern how patient information is used in the NHS and what control the patient can have over this. It is based on professional guidelines, best practice and the law and applies to both paper and electronic records. Whilst not a legal document, the Guarantee could be used as the basis for a complaint.

The NHS Care Record Guarantee includes information on:

  • people's access to their own records,
  • how access to an individual's healthcare record will be monitored and policed and what controls are in place to prevent unauthorised access,
  • options people have to further limit access,
  • access in an emergency,
  • what happens when someone is unable to make decisions for themselves.

The delivery of joined up care requires effective and accurate sharing of information between health and social care. The NHS Care Record Guarantee for England and the Social Care Record Guarantee for England together form a basis for transparent, legal and secure information sharing.

The guarantee was first published in 2005 and is regularly reviewed by the National Information Governance Board to ensure it remains clear and continues to reflect the law, professional guidelines and best information governance practice. It was last published in January 2011.

The 2011 Version

The NHS Care Record Guarantee for England (version 5) (PDF, 128Kb)

All comments, criticisms and suggestions that were sent to the NIGB about the NHS Care Record Guarantee for England were considered and debated. We are grateful to those who took the time to write or email us.

The key changes to version 5 of the guarantee are as follows:

  • The addition of the NHS commitment to privacy and confidentiality as set out in the NHS Constitution for England 2010 and inclusion of the Government’s intention to give patients control of their health records over time (Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS 2010).
  • The removal of reference to the national care record service to reflect the move away from a central model to a locally managed one.
  • The addition of local organisations’ responsibility for ensuring confidentiality and privacy and how to find out more about local arrangements for adhering to the commitments in the NHS Care Record Guarantee.
  • The addition of wording to reflect that all organisations providing care on behalf of the NHS are subject to the same strict policies and controls and the mechanisms by which this is done.
  • Further reference to the role research plays in the NHS.

This version has taken account of the Information Revolution document and any changes needed arising from the forthcoming Health Bill and Information Strategy will be taken into consideration for version 6.  We expect the twelve commitments to remain largely unchanged forming the bed rock of the Guarantee.

Printed copies of the NHS Care Record Guarantee are also available to order from the DH Order line.

Additional Information

An illustrated leaflet explaining Care Records for Younger Children is available here (PDF, 784Kb).

Guidance on Interpretation of Commitment 12 (PDF, 14Kb)