Faxes of confidential information are particularly vulnerable to interception, and in principle confidential, clinical or personal information must not be sent by fax. As NHSmail provides national email and fax facilities and is the only service endorsed for email communications, it is recommended this mode of transmission is used where possible. If this is not possible then the following procedure must be followed:
The following guidelines apply when faxing of any information of a confidential nature to minimise the risk of confidential, person or patient-identifiable information being divulged to any non-entitled persons.
Procedure for operating fax machines
- Complete recognised cover sheet, (see below) including your extension number and your name. The cover sheet is also available on the intranet.
- Where person identifiable information is being transferred, the CHI number must be used on the cover sheet, and every effort made to transmit clinical information separately from the CHI number. If it is essential, clinical information can be sent with the CHI number and the name and address conveyed by telephone.
- Any names, initials, dates of birth, hospital unit numbers etc., which might identify an individual must be blanked out. Where named data transfer is established practice and where discontinuation of this practice would cause considerable disruption to patient services it is essential that best practice as described below is followed
- Only send confidential faxes from Safe Haven approved machines.
- Check you have the correct fax number. If you have an automatic dial facility, please use it.
- Telephone recipient – ask them to confirm their fax number. Tell them you intend to send a confidential fax and that they should wait by their fax machine and return your call immediately to confirm it has arrived.
- Use the memory dial facility to reduce the risk of misdialling frequently used numbers.
- Once you have received confirmation that the cover sheet has arrived safely, you can confirm the name of the person the fax relates to and fax the rest of the document.
- Print out the log and file it as a record of what was sent.
Procedure for sending confidential information by email
Staff should refer to Policy (GPE6) Email Policy regarding the transfer of confidential information by email. Advice should be sought from the eHealth Security Manager, NHS Fife if there is any doubt.
An Equality & Diversity Rapid Impact Assessment has been completed for this procedure No negative impacts have been identified.