Medical student access to patient records

Carrying folders

18 / 6 / 2009 3.24pm

To ensure that patient’s records remain confidential, access is controlled. To access systems and records, individuals need a Smartcard which allows them access to appropriate records, and to perform appropriate tasks in relation to those records.  The process for obtaining a Smartcard involves proving identity beyond reasonable doubt, followed by the granting of appropriate access privileges based on an individual’s role.

NHS organisations undertaking training therefore need to ensure that there are arrangements for Smartcard issue and the granting of appropriate access rights for students on placements. This must be based on verification of identity, just as for other NHS staff and contractors in accordance with the NHS Employment Check Standards.

Options for issuing Smartcards

There are two broad options available for the issuing of Smartcards.

  1. NHS organisations include, as part of the induction process for students, appropriate identity checks and the issuing of a Smartcard (unless the student already has one from an earlier placement or NHS employment) followed by the granting of appropriate access rights.
  2. NHS organisations delegate the verification of identity and issue of a Smartcard, within the Registration Authority governance framework, to educational establishments. The NHS organisations those students then attend, will need to grant appropriate access rights on commencement of placements.

Issues for employers to consider

The need to verify students’ identities and issue Smartcards could be integrated into a single business process, coordinated between educational establishments and NHS organisations in an area. We suggest that NHS organisations, including the local education commissioner and their local educational establishments discuss how students might be issued with Smartcards.

Issues that need to be considered.

  • What pattern of students placements will there be in relation to each educational establishment?  How many students will be joining an NHS organisation?  Will it be their first placement or not? When is the best time to issue Smartcards?
  • How can the process of issuing Smartcards be integrated into the university or employers’ normal identity checking process at the point of induction?
  • What processes does the NHS organisation already have in place to check the identity of students coming on placement to their organisation?  This is a requirement under NHS Employers' mandatory employment checks.  Delegating responsibility of issuing Smartcards to educational establishments, with the associated identity checking, may support NHS organisations in meeting this requirement. Because Smartcards are only issued on the basis that identity has been verified, the Smartcard could be used as one method of checking identity when an individual arrives in another organisation 
  • Will students require access to NHS systems or other organisational processes that are Smartcard enabled during their clinical placements?  Agreeing with NHS organisations the point during training when access to NHS systems is required may help to facilitate the planning process around issuing Smartcards and granting access rights
  • What processes does the NHS organisation(s) employ to issue Smartcards to staff? 
  • What are the options locally that are available to issue Smartcards to students?
  • What are the numbers of students involved and when? 
  • How will the arrangements agreed locally ensure access privileges be removed once the student placement has finished?

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