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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

CR209. Good Psychiatric Practice: Confidentiality and Information Sharing (2nd edition)

Price: £0.00

Approved: Nov 2017

Published: Nov 2017

Status: current

Number of pages: 80

Review by: 2012

Download free PDF version

Hard copies of this report have run out and are no longer available either to buy, or as free copies for members.  You can still read the report free online as a PDF, using the link above.

The central purpose of this document is to provide members with guidance on good practice in confidentiality. This includes advice on information sharing and on dealing with decisions on disclosure, including requests for disclosure. This comprehensive guidance develops, in depth, the outline guidance given in the College's Good Psychiatric Practice report. It has been informed by and is consistent with Confidentiality, guidance for doctors published by the General Medical Council (GMC).


The focus is on practical guidance relevant to a variety of situations and issues that confront psychiatrists and other members of multidisciplinary teams throughout the National Health Service (NHS) and independent sector. The document is supplemented by a series of appendices that provide background information and examples. Summary guidance statements are included for each area of practice.

Since these guidelines were last issued in 2006, there have been a number of changes in health service organisation, clinical practice and public expectations, as well as a general trend towards augmenting the duty to disclose and to reducing professional privilege. Particular consideration has been given to the special issues surrounding the sensitivity of mental health information, the impact of changes in health service organisation, developments within practice (e.g. multidisciplinary and multi-agency working) and the impact of new technologies (e.g. electronic communication and computerised information systems).

This report is the replacement of the original CR85: Good Psychiatric Practice: Confidentiality from 2000, of CR65: Guidance for Videotaping from 1998, and of CR133: Good Psychiatric Practice: Confidentiality and Information Sharing from 2006.

The College recommends education and training in confidentiality at undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD levels. An online CPD module exists to support training: Respect for Confidentiality - good psychiatric practice.


  • Introduction
  • Protection, uses and disclosures: general considerations
  • Direct patient care
  • Healthcare purposes outside direct patient care (secondary uses)
  • Uses and disclosure for non-healthcare purposes
  • Requests for information
  • Requests for reports
  • Vulnerable patients
  • Children and young people
  • Media, audio and video recording
  • Protection and security of patient information
  • Appendix 1. Legal framework
  • Appendix 2. Scenarios
  • Appendix 3. Audit
  • Appendix 4. Department of Health definition of ‘serious crime’
  • Appendix 5. Issues relating to patients who are vulnerable or lack capacity
  • Appendix 6. Security of patient information
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ISBN for CR160:

Please note this item is now out of print.