Patient and Personal Information

Information We Record About You

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service provides an ambulance, urgent care and patient transport service across the whole of Northern Ireland.

When you contact us as a patient or as a user of the service, we collect information about you and keep records about the service we provide. We may also record information about you if you contact us for any other reason. This guidance explains the type of information we record about you, why this is necessary, and the ways in which this information may be used by the Service.

  • What type of information will we record about you?
  • What happens to your Clinical Records?
  • How else is information about you used?
  • How do you know your records will be kept confidential?
  • How long do we keep your records?
  • Your rights to your information
  • How to obtain your personal information or request further details about the use of your information
  • Complaints
  • Accessing your information in alternative formats

We log details electronically when we receive a call for help or a booking for non-emergency patient transport services that we operate.  This will include your name, address, presenting clinical condition etc.  All calls received in the Emergency Ambulance Control and Non-Emergency Ambulance Control are recorded.

If one of our ambulances attends you, or you are transferred between Hospitals by ambulance, we will collect information about you to help us identify and treat you. This will be written on Patient Report Form along with details of your symptoms and condition, and any treatment we give you.

To provide you with a patient transport service, we will record details about where you live, where we will be taking you and some details about your circumstances for administration purposes.

If you make a complaint or an enquiry about the service we have provided, or have contact with us on another matter, we will keep a record of all the relevant details in a file for reference purposes. In some cases, we may need to obtain information from the hospital we have taken you to in order to investigate a complaint or deal with an enquiry.

If an ambulance takes you to hospital, we will give the hospital staff a copy of the written Patient Report Form so that they have details of your condition and the treatment we have provided.  Staff may also provide verbal information to hospital staff to assist with your ongoing clinical management.

Other health and social care professionals involved in your treatment or care may ask us for information about your use of our services or the treatment you received. Provided we are satisfied that they do need this information for your care, or you have given permission, we will provide this to them.

In some circumstances, particularly if we do not take you to hospital, we may share information or clinical records with other healthcare professionals. Most commonly, this will be to your GP, but we may also pass your details to other specialist healthcare teams which might include people from other organisations, such as social services or Police Service of Northern Ireland, to assess whether they can offer you support that may help to prevent a similar situation arising again.

In line with Transforming your Care, we are also introducing referral pathways for the management of some clinical conditions such as diabetes, falls etc and on these occasions and with your consent, we provide your information to HSC colleagues to enable effective management of your clinical condition without having to go to hospital

We are sometimes also asked by HSC colleagues for information about incidents attended so they can identify and provide more appropriate care pathways for patients.

Records of the treatment and service we provide are retained securely for reference and will allow us to monitor how well we are providing our service and dealing with the patients we transport.

Helping us to Train our Staff and Monitor their Work

Emergency ambulance staff may need to copy Patient Report Form they have completed for their Core Professional Development (CPD), but they will blank out information which could identify you before they do this.  Staff may also require access to your Patient Report Form retrospectively to provide witness statements to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Coroner etc

Clinical Support Officers may also access patient records to monitor the quality of completion of the record by ambulance staff.

Monitoring the Standard of Care we provide and Undertaking Research

Anonymised information from Patient Report Form records is used for internal audit purposes and details of the emergency treatment and care we provide is sometimes used for research. We make sure ethical approval has been obtained in accordance with HSC guidelines before we release any information outside the organisation for research purposes and do not release information that could identify patients unless it is absolutely necessary.

Monitoring the Standard of Care Provided within the HSC overall

We pass information to other HSC organisations ie DHSSPS, Health and Social Care Board as part of national initiatives to monitor the standard of care provided within the HSC family. In all cases, we supply only the details that are needed for these purposes and, wherever possible, the information will be anonymised.

Disclosure to Third Parties

We will not disclose your information to third parties (for instance outside the HSC) without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as when it is justified in the public interest; for example:

  • When a serious crime has been committed;
  • When there are serious risks to the public or HSC staff; or
  • To protect children or vulnerable adults who are not able to decide for themselves whether their information should be shared.

Or where the law requires information to be passed on; for example-

  • Where a formal court order has been issued.

When we pass on any information we will ensure that the recipient is aware that it must be kept confidential and secure.

Complaints and Enquiries

Files relating to complaints or enquiries we receive will only be seen by the staff who are dealing with the matter. We will only pass this to another organisation or body if you ask us to do this, for example, if you request that our response to your complaint is reviewed by a separate regulating body.

We may sometimes be asked for information about the service we have provided you with by other organisations investigating a complaint or enquiry you have made to them, or if you are pursuing a legal claim against them.

All HSC organisations have a legal duty of confidence to their patients and the Data Protection Act 1998 further defines how we can collect and handle personal information. The HSC also has an additional set of guidelines, known as the Caldicott principles, which apply to the use of patient information. All HSC organisations are required to appoint a Caldicott Guardian to ensure patient information is handled in accordance with legal and HSC regulations.

We will seek your consent before we release information that identifies you to any third party for any other reason than those set out in this guidance. We will not pass information that identifies you to another person or organisation (including friends or relatives) without your knowledge or permission unless we have an overriding legal duty to do so.

We retain medical records and details of 999 calls for 10 years. Other records that may contain information about you are kept for varying lengths of times.

You have a right to see all personal or clinical information we hold about you. However, please be aware that we are entitled to make a small charge to cover our costs.

If you believe any of the information we hold about you may not be accurate, or if you have any concerns about us collecting and using information about you as outlined here, you should contact our Information Department as detailed below.

The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to find out what information about you is held by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. This is known as “right of subject access”. It applies to your health records and all other personal information relating to you held by the Service.

If you want to make a subject access request for personal data held in respect of any services provided by the Trust you should make a written request (fax, email or letter) to the contact details provided below.

If you have any concerns about how your requests or information has been handled, please write to the address provided below.

You can also write to the Information Commissioner at if you are unhappy with the Trust’s internal investigation of the complaint:

Email: ni@ico.org.uk
Post: Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House,

Water Lane,

Wilmslow,

CHESHIRE

SK9 5AF

Telephone: (028) 9027 8757 or 0303 123 1114 (Belfast based Office)

To ensure equality of opportunity in accessing information, we will provide aim to provide your information in alternative formats on request, where reasonably practicable. Alternative formats may include Easy Read, Braille, audio formats (CD, mp3 or DAISY), large print or minority languages to meet the needs of those for whom English is not their first language. If you have any queries about this and its availability in alternative formats then please contact us using the information below.

Contact Us:

Address: Director of Finance and ICT,

NIAS Headquarters,

Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park,

Saintfield Road,

Belfast,

BT8 8SG

Telephone: (028) 9040 0999  or (028) 9040 0728
Fax: (028) 9040  908
Textphone: 0890400871
Email: dataprotection@nias.hscni.net