Confidentiality and patient safety

Dentist with female patient image


Sick doctors and dentists are entitled to a confidential health service. The National Clinical Assessment Service, General Medical and General Dental Council have agreed that where individual practitioners self-refer to PHP1 for advice or treatment, they will be assured, where the safety of their patients is not compromised, that their case will be handled on a confidential basis, with no reporting to an external agency.

In those rare cases where a practitioner is not willing to comply with advice on managing their health problem and their condition appears to pose a risk to their patients, PHP1 will have a responsibility to act, which may be about advising the employing or contracting organisation to restrict a practitioner’s practice and refer to the GMC/GDC or, very rarely, directly refer to GMC/GDC.

There may be other situations where there is a statutory duty to breach confidentiality (for example, to the DVLA). However, these are very rare and will only ever be undertaken as a means of last resort.

PHP has Memoranda of Understanding with the GMC and GDC:

PHP has a working protocol with NCAS

Confidentiality Agreements: The Practitioner Health Programme is a confidential service. Information and advice can be provided to any individual contacting the service and it is not a requirement that identifying information is provided to speak with the PHP 1 staff. Practitioners and others (e.g. Trust staff, families, and colleagues) will be reassured that if information is provided that it will be in accordance with the PHP Personal Health Information Policy, which ensures that:
  • If an individual is calling about a third party, no identifying information will be recorded.
  • PHP clinical staff will obtain consent for disclosure of health information to a third party
  • There will be no direct communication between any regulatory body, Royal Colleges, NCAS, Deanery or any other body, unless the consent of the individual has been obtained or the PHP is fulfilling a mandatory reporting requirement.

The NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) Patient Confidentiality Policy provides further details.