Transgender data – protect confidentiality and protect staff

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2013 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 December 2012

Conference believes transgender people have an extra level of legal protection when it comes to data in regards to their identity. It can be a criminal offence to not secure a transgender person’s identity data that you have obtained in a professional capacity.

A breach of duty in regards to transgender staff or patient’s data occurs when someone other than who has been given specific permission to view that data has the ability to access it regardless of whether they go on to access it themselves. Most healthcare staff are not aware of their full duties in relation to transgender people’s data. There is no consistent NHS guidance that covers all the issues in relation to transgender people’s data and records.

Conference further believes some NHS trusts that work with transgender patients keep their medical files in paper based format due to inability to keep the data secure from IT staff. NHS trusts collecting transgender staff equality monitoring data can be breaching their duties to protect it either through it being viewed by administrative staff or IT staff where it is stored electronically. Where transgender staff data is stored electronically, a large number of staff who they have not given specific permission to within an organisation may have access to it breaching their confidentiality.

NHS training on staff and patient data does not sufficiently cover transgender issues. Staff not being appropriately trained in regards to transgender people’s data can put them at risk of criminal prosecution where they mishandle transgender people’s data.

Conference resolves:

1)Health SGE to write to the Department of Health highlighting the issues around transgender data being stored in the NHS;

2)to engage with UNISON’s LGBT Committee and to produce a communication to branches highlighting the individual duty staff members have when given transgender people’s data from staff and service users, including their own personal criminal liability, so that members are fully informed;

3)to encourage local branches to lobby their NHS Trust to fully include transgender issues within their patient and staff data/records training.