Topsham Surgery

01392 874646

Glasshouse Medical Centre

01392 874646

Cookies and privacy policy

Topsham Surgery Privacy Notice

Why do we have to provide this Privacy Notice? We are required to provide you with this privacy notice by law. It provides information about how we use the personal and healthcare information we collect, store and hold about you. If you have any questions about this privacy notice or are unclear about how we process or use your personal information, or have any other issue regarding your personal and healthcare information, then please contact our Data Protection Officer Bex Lovewell who can be contacted as follows : email –  Address – Delt Shared Services Ltd., Building 2 – Delt, Derriford Business Park, Plymouth, PL6 5QZ

The main things the law says we must tell you about what we do with your personal data are:

  • We must let you know why we collect personal and healthcare information about you
  • We must let you know how we use any personal and/or healthcare information we hold about you
  • We need to inform you in respect of what we do with it
  • We need to tell you about who we share it with or pass it on to and why
  • We need to let you know how long we can keep it for

What is a Privacy Notice? A privacy notice (or ‘fair processing notice’) explains the information we collect about our patients and how it is used. Being open and providing clear information to patients about how an organisation uses their personal data is an essential requirement of the new UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR).

Under the UK GDPR, we must process personal data in a fair and lawful manner. This applies to everything that is done with patient’s personal information. This means that the organisation must:

  • Have lawful and appropriate reasons for the use or collection of personal data
  • Not use the data in a way that may cause harm to the individuals (e.g., improper sharing of their information with third parties)
  • Be open about how the data will be used and provide appropriate privacy notices when collecting personal data
  • Handle personal data in line with the appropriate legislation and guidance
  • Not use the collected data inappropriately or unlawfully

What is Fair Processing?Personal data must be processed in a fair manner – the UK GDPR says that information should be treated as being obtained fairly if it is provided by a person who is legally authorised or required to provide it. Fair processing means that the organisation has to be clear and open with people about how their information is used.  Topsham Surgery manages patient information in accordance with existing laws and with guidance from organisations that govern the provision of healthcare in England such as the Department of Health and the General Medical Council. We are committed to protecting your privacy and will only use information collected lawfully in accordance with:

  • UK General Data Protection Regulations 2016
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Common Law Duty of Confidentiality
  • Health and Social Care Act 2012
  • NHS Codes of Confidentiality and Information Security
  • Information: To Share or Not to Share Review

This means ensuring that your personal confidential data (PCD) is handled clearly and transparently and in a reasonably expected way. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 changed the way that personal confidential data is processed so it is important that our patients are aware of and understand these changes and that you have an opportunity to object and know how to do so. The Healthcare Professionals who provide you with care maintain records about your health and any NHS treatment or care you have received (e.g., NHS Hospital Trust, GP surgery, walk-in clinic, etc.). These records help to provide you with the best possible healthcare. NHS health records may be processed electronically, on paper or a mixture of both and we use a combination of working practices and technology to ensure that your information is kept confidential and secure.

Who is the Data Controller? Topsham Surgery is registered as a data controller under the Data Protection Act 2018. Our registration number is Z5656715 and our registration can be viewed online in the public register at This means we are responsible for handling your personal and healthcare information and collecting and storing it appropriately when you are seen by us as a patient.  We may also process your information for a particular purpose and therefore we may also be data processors. The purposes for which we use your information are set out in this privacy notice.

What type of information do we collect about you? Information held by this organisation may include the following:

  • Your contact details (such as your name, address and email address)
  • Details and contact numbers of your next of kin
  • Your age range, gender, ethnicity
  • Details in relation to your medical history
  • The reason for your visit to the organisation
  • Any contact the organisation and/or your practice has had with you including appointments (emergency or scheduled), clinic visits, etc.
  • Notes and reports about your health, details of diagnosis and consultations with our GPs and other health professionals within the healthcare environment involved in your direct healthcare
  • Details about the treatment and care received
  • Results of investigations such as laboratory tests, x-rays, etc.
  • Relevant information from other health professionals, relatives or those who care for you
  • Recordings of telephone conversations between yourself and the organisation

Information collected about you from others –We collect and hold data for the purpose of providing healthcare services to our patients and we will ensure that the information is kept confidential. However, we can disclose personal information if:

  • It is required by law
  • You provide your consent – either implicitly for the sake of your own care or explicitly for other purposes
  • It is justified to be in the public interest

To ensure you receive the best possible care, your records are used to enable the care you receive. Information held about you may be used to help protect the health of the public and to help us to manage the NHS. Information may be used for clinical audit purposes to monitor the quality of services provided, may be held centrally and may used for statistical purposes. Where we do this, we ensure that patient records cannot be identified.  Sometimes your information may be requested to be used for clinical research purposes – the organisation will always endeavour to gain your consent before releasing the information.  Improvements in information technology are also making it possible for us to share data with other healthcare providers with the objective of providing you with better care. You can choose to withdraw your consent to your data being used in this way. When the organisation is about to participate in any new data-sharing scheme, we will make patients aware by displaying prominent notices and on our website at least four weeks before the scheme is due to start. We will also explain clearly what you have to do to ‘opt-out’ of each new scheme. A patient can object to their personal information being shared with other healthcare providers but if this limits the treatment that you can receive then the doctor will explain this to you at the time.

How do we use your information? Your data is collected for the purpose of providing direct patient care; however, we are able to disclose this information if it is required by law, if you give consent or if it is justified in the public interest. In order to comply with its legal obligations, this organisation may have to send data to NHS Digital when directed by the Secretary of State for Health under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Additionally, we may have to contribute to national clinical audits and will send the data that is required by NHS Digital as the law allows. This may include demographic data, such as date of birth, and information about your health which is recorded in coded form; for example, the clinical code for diabetes or high blood pressure. Under the General Data Protection Regulation, we will be lawfully using your information in accordance with:

  • Article 6, (e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
  • Article 9, (h) processing is necessary for the purposes of preventive or occupational medicine, for the assessment of the working capacity of the employee, medical diagnosis, the provision of health or social care or treatment or the management of health or social care systems

 Who can we provide your personal information to and why?Whenever you use a health or care service, such as attending the local hospital or using the district nursing service, clinical information about you is collected to help ensure you get the best possible care and treatment. This information may be passed to other approved organisations where there is a legal basis to do so, to help with planning services, improving care, researching to develop new treatments and preventing illness. All of this helps in providing better care to you and your family and future generations. However, as explained in this privacy notice, confidential information about your health and care is only used in this way as allowed by law and would never be used for any other purpose without your clear and explicit consent. We may pass your personal information on to the following people or organisations because these organisations may require your information to assist them in the provision of your direct healthcare needs. It therefore may be important for them to be able to access your information in order to ensure they may deliver their services to you:

  • Hospital professionals (such as doctors, consultants, nurses etc.)
  • Other GPs/doctors
  • Primary Care Networks
  • NHS Trusts/Foundation Trusts/Specialist Trusts
  • NHS Commissioning Support Units
  • NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Digital (NHSD)
  • Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
  • Independent contractors such as dentists, opticians, pharmacists
  • Any other person who is involved in providing services related to your general healthcare including mental health professionals
  • Private sector providers including pharmaceutical companies to allow for the provision of medical equipment, dressings, hosiery etc.
  • Voluntary sector providers
  • Ambulance Trusts
  • Integrated Care Systems
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Local authority
  • Social care services
  • Education services
  • Other ‘data processors’, e.g., Diabetes UK

You will be informed who your data will be shared with and in some cases asked for explicit consent for this to happen when this is required.

Who may we provide your information to: For the purposes of complying with the law, e.g., the police

  • Anyone you have given your consent to, to view or receive your record, or part of your record. If you give another person or organisation consent to access your record, we will need to contact you to verify your consent before we release that record. It is important that you are clear and understand how much and what aspects of your record you give consent to be disclosed
  • Computer systems – we operate a clinical computer system on which NHS staff record information securely. This information can then be shared with other clinicians so that everyone caring for you is fully informed about your medical history including allergies and medication. We will make information available to our partner organisations (above) unless you have declined data sharing to ensure you receive appropriate and safe care. Wherever possible, staff will ask your consent before your information is viewed.
  • Extended access – we provide extended access services to our patients so that you can access medical services outside of our normal working hours. To provide you with this service, we have formal arrangements in place with the Clinical Commissioning Group whereby certain key ‘hubs’ offer this service for you as a patient to access outside of our opening hours. This means those key ‘hubs’ will have to have access to your medical record to be able to offer you the service. Please note to ensure that those hubs comply with the law and to protect the use of your information, we have very robust data sharing agreements and other clear arrangements in place to ensure your data is always protected and used for those purposes only.
  • Data extraction by the Clinical Commissioning Group – the Clinical Commissioning Group at times extracts medical information about you but the information we pass to them via our computer systems cannot identify you to them

Your rights as a patient – The law gives you certain rights to your personal and healthcare information that we hold as set out below:

Access and Subject Access Requests 

You have a right under the Data Protection legislation to request access to view or to obtain copies of what information the organisation holds about you and to have it amended should it be inaccurate.


We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date. You may ask us to correct any information you think is inaccurate. It is especially important that you make sure you tell us if your contact details including your mobile phone number have changed.


You have the right to ask for your information to be removed. However, if we require this information to assist us in providing you with appropriate medical services and diagnosis for your healthcare, then removal may not be possible.


We cannot share your information with anyone else for a purpose that is not directly related to your health, e.g., medical research, educational purposes etc.


You have the right to request that your personal and/or healthcare information is transferred, in an electronic form (or other form), to another organisation but we will require your clear consent to be able to do this.


How long do we keep your personal information? We are required under UK law to keep your information and data for the full retention periods as specified by the NHS Records Management Code of Practice for health and social care and national archives requirements.

Where do we store your information electronically? All the personal data we process is processed by our staff in the UK. However, for the purposes of IT hosting and maintenance this information may be located on servers within the European Union. No third parties have access to your personal data unless the law allows them to do so and appropriate safeguards have been put in place such as a data processor as above.  We have data protection processes in place to oversee the effective and secure processing of your personal and/or special category data.  Topsham Surgery uses a clinical system provided by a data processor called SystmOnline.  

Maintaining your confidentiality and accessing your records We are committed to protecting your privacy and will only use information collected lawfully in accordance with the UK General Data Protection Regulations (which is overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office), Human Rights Act, the Common Law Duty of Confidentiality and the NHS Codes of Confidentiality and Security. Every staff member who works for an NHS organisation has a legal obligation to maintain the confidentiality of patient information.  All of our staff, contractors and locums receive appropriate and regular training to ensure they are aware of their personal responsibilities and have legal and contractual obligations to uphold confidentiality, enforceable through disciplinary procedures. Only a limited number of authorised staff have access to personal information where it is appropriate to their role and this is strictly on a need-to-know basis. If a sub-contractor acts as a data processor for Topsham Surgery an appropriate contract (Article 24-28) will be established for the processing of your information. We maintain our duty of confidentiality to you at all times. We will only ever use or pass on information about you if others involved in your care have a genuine need for it. We will not disclose your information to any third party without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances (i.e., life or death situations) or where the law requires information to be passed on and/or in accordance with the information sharing principle following Dame Fiona Caldicott’s information sharing review (Information to share or not to share) where “The duty to share information can be as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality.” This means that health and social care professionals should have the confidence to share information in the best interests of their patients within the framework set out by the Caldicott principles.   Our organisational policy is to respect the privacy of our patients, their families and our staff and to maintain compliance with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and all UK specific data protection requirements. Our policy is to ensure all personal data related to our patients will be protected. In certain circumstances you may have the right to withdraw your consent to the processing of data. Please contact the organisation in writing if you wish to withdraw your consent.  In some circumstances we may need to store your data after your consent has been withdrawn to comply with a legislative requirement.

Sharing your information without consent We will normally ask you for your consent but there are times when we may be required by law to share your information without your consent, for example:

  • Where there is a serious risk of harm or abuse to you or other people
  • Safeguarding matters and investigations
  • Where a serious crime, such as assault, is being investigated or where it could be prevented
  • Notification of new births
  • Where we encounter infectious diseases that may endanger the safety of others, such as meningitis or measles (but not HIV/AIDS)
  • Where a formal court order has been issued
  • Where there is a legal requirement, for example if you had committed a road traffic offence.

 Third Party Processors To enable us to deliver the best possible services, we will share data (where required) with other NHS bodies such as hospitals. In addition, the organisation will use carefully selected third party service providers. When we use a third-party service provider to process data on our behalf then we will always have an appropriate agreement in place to ensure that they keep the data secure, that they do not use or share information other than in accordance with our instructions and that they are operating appropriately. Examples of functions that may be carried out by third parties include:

  • Companies that provide IT services and support, including our core clinical systems, systems that manage patient facing services (such as our website and service accessible through the same), data hosting service providers, systems that facilitate appointment bookings or electronic prescription services and document management services etc.
  • Further details regarding specific third-party processors can be supplied on request to the data protection officer as below.

Third Parties mentioned on your Medical Record Sometimes we record information about third parties mentioned by you to us during any consultation. We are under an obligation to make sure we also protect that third party’s rights as an individual and to ensure that references to them that may breach their rights to confidentiality are removed before we send any information to any other party including yourself. Third parties can include spouses, partners and other family members.

 Anonymised Information Sometimes we may provide information about you in an anonymised form. If we do so, then none of the information we provide to any other party will identify you as an individual and cannot be traced back to you.

 Audit Auditing of clinical notes is done by Topsham Surgery as part of their commitment to the effective management of healthcare whilst acting as a data processor. Article 9.2.h is applicable to the management of healthcare services and “permits processing necessary for the purposes of medical diagnosis, provision of healthcare and treatment, provision of social care and the management of healthcare systems or services or social care systems or services.’” No consent is required to audit clinical notes for this purpose. Furthermore, compliance with Article 9(2)(h) requires that certain safeguards are met. The processing must be undertaken by or under the responsibility of a professional subject to the obligation of professional secrecy or by another person who is subject to an obligation of secrecy. Auditing clinical management is no different to a multi-disciplinary team meeting discussion whereby management is reviewed and agreed. It would be realistically impossible to require consent for every patient reviewed that is unnecessary. It is also prudent to audit under Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 17: Good Governance.

Invoice validation Your information may be shared if you have received treatment to determine which Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for paying for your treatment. This information may include your name, address and treatment date. All of this information is held securely and confidentially; it will not be used for any other purpose or shared with any third parties.

NHS Health Checks Cohorts of our patients aged 40-74 not previously diagnosed with cardiovascular disease are eligible to be invited for an NHS Health Check.  Nobody outside the healthcare team in Topsham Surgery will see confidential information about you during the invitation process.

Patient communication As we are obliged to protect any confidential information we hold about you, it is imperative that you let us know immediately if you change any of your contact details. We may contact you using SMS texting to your mobile phone should we need to notify you about appointments and other services that we provide to you involving your direct care. This is to ensure we are sure we are contacting you and not another person. As this is operated on an ‘opt out’ basis we will assume that you have given us permission to contact you via SMS if you have provided your mobile telephone number. Please let the organisation know if you wish to opt out of this SMS service. We may also contact you using the email address you have provided to us.

Primary Care Networks The objective of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) is to group practices together to create more collaborative workforces that ease the pressure of GPs, leaving them better able to focus on patient care. All areas within England are covered by a PCN.  Primary Care Networks form a key building block of the NHS long-term plan. Bringing general practices together to work at scale has been a policy priority for some years for a range of reasons including improving the ability of practices to recruit and retain staff, to manage financial and estates pressures, to provide a wider range of services to patients and to integrate with the wider health and care system more easily.  All GP practices have come together in geographical networks covering populations of approximately 30–50,000 patients to take advantage of additional funding attached to the GP contract. This size is consistent with the size of the primary care homes that exist in many places in the country but are much smaller than most GP federations. This means that Topsham Surgery may share your information with other Practices within the Primary Care Network to provide you with your care and treatment.

Risk Stratification Risk stratification is a process for identifying and managing patients who are at high risk of requiring emergency or urgent care and planning the management for that patient. Typically this is because patients have a long term condition such as COPD, cancer or other medical condition at risk of sudden worsening. NHS England (the national Commissioning Board) encourages GPs to use risk stratification tools as part of their local strategies for supporting patients with long-term conditions and to provide care plans and planned care with the aim to prevent avoidable admissions or other emergency care. Information about you is collected through the clinical systems from a number of sources including NHS Trusts and from this GP Practice. A risk score is then arrived at through an analysis of your de-identified information using software provided by NHS North East and West Devon CCG as the data processor and is provided back in an identifiable form to your GP or member of your care team as data controller. Risk stratification enables your GP to focus on preventing ill health and not just the treatment of sickness. If necessary your GP may be able to offer you additional services.  Please note that you have the right to opt out of Risk Stratification.

Telephone System Our telephone system records all telephone calls.  Recordings are retained for up to three years and are used periodically for the purposes of seeking clarification where there is a dispute as to what was said and for staff training.


National opt-out Facility This is used by the NHS, local authorities, university and hospital researchers, medical colleges and pharmaceutical companies researching new treatments.  You can choose to opt out of sharing your confidential patient information for research and planning. There may still be times when your confidential patient information is used; for example, during an epidemic where there might be a risk to you or to other people’s health. You can also still consent to take part in a specific research project. Your confidential patient information will still be used for your individual care. Choosing to opt out will not affect your care and treatment. You will still be invited for screening services such as screening for bowel cancer.  You do not need to do anything if you are happy about how your confidential patient information is used.  If you do not want your confidential patient information to be used for research and planning, please go to the website  

Note: Unfortunately, the national data opt-out cannot be applied by this organisation.

 General Practice Data for Planning and Research Opt Oot (GPDPR)The NHS needs data about the patients it treats to plan and deliver its services and to ensure that the care and treatment provided is safe and effective. The General Practice Data for Planning and Research data collection will help the NHS to improve health and care services for everyone by collecting patient data that can be used to do this. For example, patient data can help the NHS to:

  • Monitor the long-term safety and effectiveness of care
  • Plan how to deliver better health and care services
  • Prevent the spread of infectious diseases
  • Identify new treatments and medicines through health research

GP Practices already share patient data for these purposes but this new data collection will be more efficient and effective. This means that GPs can get on with looking after their patients and NHS Digital can provide controlled access to patient data to the NHS and other organisations who need to use it, to improve health and care for everyone.  Contributing to research projects will benefit us all as better and safer treatments are introduced more quickly and effectively without compromising your privacy and confidentiality.  NHS Digital has engaged with the British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the National Data Guardian (NDG) to ensure relevant safeguards are in place for patients and GP practices.

Objections or complaints In the unlikely event that you are unhappy with any element of our data-processing methods, do please contact the Practice M in the first instance. If you feel that we have not addressed your concern appropriately, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the ICO. For further details, visit and select “Raising a concern” or telephone: 0303 123 1113.  The Information Commissioner’s Office is the regulator for the General Data Processing Regulations and offers independent advice and guidance on the law and personal data including your rights and how to access your personal information.

Changes to our Privacy Policy We regularly review our privacy policy and any updates will be published on our website, in our newsletter and on posters to reflect the changes. This policy is to be reviewed March 2023.

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