Connecting Care is a digital care record system for sharing information in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. It allows instant, secure access to your health and social care records for the professionals involved in your care.
Relevant information from your digital records is shared with care professionals that look after you. This gives them up-to-date information making your care safer and more efficient.
Connecting Care means safer and faster treatment, reduced duplication of tests and a much more joined-up approach to the care you receive.
To provide the best possible care, health and social care professionals need the most up to date information about you. Together, we care for nearly one million people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
In this section you can find out about Connecting Care and the security of your personal information.
You probably expect that the people who look after you already have instant access to relevant information about you.
Your GP, hospitals, community health, mental health and social care teams could all hold important information about your care, but it has not always been easily available to other parts of your local NHS and care community.
Connecting Care means:
- key parts of your records are immediately available to care professionals who are involved in your care
- members of your care team can access the information they need to look after you, even if they work for different organisations in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
- you only have to tell your story once
- safer and faster treatment
- reduced duplication of tests and results
- a much more joined-up approach to the care you receive
How does it work?
The digital care record used by health and social care professionals in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire is called Connecting Care.
The record contains some of the information held at GP practices, hospital departments, community services, mental health trusts, out of hours services and local authorities across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This information combines into a single, shared digital record all about you.
Information can only be viewed in Connecting Care for as long as it is held by the organisation it originates from. All health and social care organisations that share information in Connecting Care have to comply with the relevant laws about information retention.
The digital record reduces the time spent by professionals checking details from different health and social care organisations. It can also reduce delays to your treatment caused by a lack of information.
Connecting Care is only accessible via the NHS private and secure network. Individual user access is dependent on a professional’s work role – their role defines which information they see. A user has to be authorised to have a Connecting Care account and each user is issued with a unique username and password.
Only those directly involved with your care and authorised to use the system can see your information unless you have specifically signed up to take part in a research study where the appropriate research team may access the information held in Connecting Care to ensure your participation in the study is safe and suitable.
Health and social care professionals have been using the Connecting Care digital care record since 2013. Since then, the system has been continuously developed to share more information and offer more functionality and we will continue to develop Connecting Care as a Programme Team, to ensure it remains useful for health and social care organisations in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area.
Reasons for accessing my information
Any programme like Connecting Care, or any health and care project that involves information sharing of personal data, needs to have a legal basis for doing so. This is required because each partner organisation is a statutory
body, or it provides services for a statutory body. This means that it gets its powers and directions to carry out its functions and deliver services (including sharing the information needed to carry out these functions) directly from
All authorised users of Connecting Care must have a legitimate reason for accessing a record. These reasons are tied to the data protection conditions for processing. They are:
Ongoing Care Relationship
Where there is an established care relationship with you, this means we are directly caring or treating you or have concerns about your well-being. A legal basis, contained in legislation, has already been identified and agreed by the Connecting Care Partnership.
Your consent will only be sought when other legitimate reasons don’t apply. If your consent is sought it must be explicit for your consent to be valid and you can withdraw your consent for your record to be viewed at any time.
If you have a severe injury or are in distress or where gaining your consent would delay or put you at increased significant risk and no other legitimate reason applies, information will be accessed on the basis of your ‘vital interests’.
This is only used when there are legitimate concerns for an individual (this might be you, or it might be someone related to you in some way) and these concerns arise outside of a care episode. The same decision-making process that is used when sharing personal data outside of Connecting Care for a safeguarding concern will be used when accessing information in Connecting Care for this purpose.
Appropriateness of referral and clinical audit
This is only used where it is necessary to check the appropriateness of your referral to a service. There is a possibility that the referral will be rejected as unsuitable and therefore no care based Legitimate Relationship will be established between you and this service.
What if I don’t want my information shared?
We do not recommend opting out of Connecting Care.
This is because care professionals will not be able to view important information about you in social care and health settings when they need it, for safe and effective care.
Information used by doctors, nurses and other care professionals has previously been shared by letter, fax or telephone. By switching to modern, secure technology everyone benefits from quicker access to information by authorised, qualified and regulated professionals.
You have certain legal rights, including a right to have your information processed fairly and lawfully and a right to access any personal information we hold about you. You have the right to privacy and to expect Connecting Care partner organisations to keep your information private and secure.
If you do not want information that identifies you to be accessed using Connecting Care and you decide to opt out, your information will continue to be shared, to deliver care to you, in the traditional ways.
When you “opt out” from your information being accessed by appropriate staff via Connecting Care, your information will continue to be stored in the system but will be removed from view. This is because all partner organisations have a duty in law to make information available to specific, identified staff to investigate safeguarding concerns.
Your information will not be available to anyone else except for these staff and only if you are relevant to their investigation.
How do I opt out of/opt back into Connecting Care?
To opt out or back into Connecting Care, please contact NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB Customer Services, who will be able to process this.
What is shared about me?
Connecting Care shares important information about you digitally which means that your records are available immediately and securely to staff who are caring for you, at whatever time they need it, even ‘out of hours’.
Staff are subject to strict rules; they must have a legitimate reason to use access – there are serious consequences for staff if they misuse access. They may face action by their employer, their professional body and/or face civil or criminal prosecution for inappropriate access to information.
Staff are given access to information that they are reasonably and foreseeably likely to need to access in the course of their professional duties.
Staff will still be able to access your information and share data via telephone, paper and face-to-face.
Connecting Care information may include:
- Medication you’ve been prescribed and changes to your prescriptions
- Contact details for you and those involved in your care
- Medical conditions or allergies you may have
- Radiology and pathology reports (reports on X-rays and blood test
- Key documents such as care plans and letters about treatment and referrals
- Details of the operations and medical procedures you’ve received
- Your hospital, GP and social care referrals and appointments
- Safeguarding alerts
Which organisations can view my
Connecting Care is a partnership of health and social care organisations, those listed below are the organisations that have access to your information via Connecting Care.
These organisations may hold information about you in their own records which means they are governed by law to manage and secure your information appropriately.
Further details about how these organisations use and manage your information can be found on their websites.
Organisations that share and view information
GP practices in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
- University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust (includes the Bristol Royal Infirmary and Weston Hospital)
- North Bristol NHS Trust (includes Southmead Hospital)
- Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership
Other NHS services
Organisations that only view information
- AbleCare Homes
- Access Your Care
- Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service
- Bristol Drugs Project
- NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB
- British Red Cross
- Cedar Care Homes
- Children’s Hospice South West
- Clevedon Residential Care Home
- Handsale Care Homes
- Manor Community Care Home Manor Cottage
- Marie Curie
- Milestones Trust
- NHS Blood and Transplant
- Oaktree Lodge (Clevedon) Ltd
- Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust Second Step
- Practice Plus (111 & Emerson’s Green)
- Shaw Healthcare
- South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
- St Mungo’s
- St Peter’s Hospice
- The Orders of St John Care Trust
- The Thomas Moore Project
- We Are With You
- Weston Hospice Care
How to contact us
If you require further information, please contact NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB Customer Services.