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Sharing patient information between healthcare professionals – a joint statement from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and College of Optometrists

20 March 2015

People using health and social care services are entitled to expect that their personal information will remain confidential. However, people also expect professionals to share information with other members of the care team. Good sharing of information[1], when sharing is appropriate, is as important as maintaining confidentiality. Optometrists, as regulated professionals, are part of the healthcare team so it is usually in the patients’ best interest for ophthalmologists to share clinical information with the referring optometrist. This will improve the care of the patient, and that of future patients, by providing useful feedback about the diagnosis and management. It will also reduce duplication of tests, and possible unnecessary re-referrals. Unless the hospital policy specifically prohibits sending copies of letters to optometrists, ophthalmologists should send copies of GP letters to the referring optometrist after confirming consent by the patient. The consent must be recorded in the notes.

Optometrists can help to ensure that they receive feedback by always including their name and contact details clearly on the referral letter.

[1] Dame Fiona Caldicott, The Information Governance Review, March 2013, page 21 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-information-governance-review