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How we use your data in Public Health

To deliver public health, local authorities need to use available health data sources to get relevant health and social care information. All information accessed, processed and stored by public health staff will be used to measure the health, mortality or care needs of the population; for planning, evaluating and monitoring health; protecting and improving public health and to design services to ensure they meet local needs in the most efficient manner. It is used to carry out and support:

  • health needs assessments
  • health equity analysis
  • commissioning and delivery of services to promote health and prevent ill health
  • public health surveillance
  • identifying inequalities in the way people access services
  • joint strategic needs assessment
  • health protection and other partnership activities
  • service commissioning
  • summary statistics to national organisations
  • performance management

We use data including births and deaths of residents of the borough and registered patients of St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group. We use hospital data including Hospital Episode data (HES) and Secondary Uses Service data (SUS) which cover when a patient is treated in hospital. We also receive information on the heights and weights of pupils from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

The local authority receives data from Cabinet Office and St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group on individuals needing support, as they have been identified as vulnerable in relation to the COVID-19 virus. This support provided by the local authority will depend on needs identified by the user, and may include provisions of food, medicine, medical, health and/or mental health support. This will be in cases where individuals are not able to access these directly due to the person being at higher risk. The legal basis for use of this data under GDPR is Article 6(1)(e) public task to process the personal data, Article 9(2)(g) - substantial public interest, and paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 DPA - governmental purpose to process and share this data.

The data used can contain person identifiable data (PID) which may identify patients, such as name, address, age, sex, ethnicity, date of birth, use of hospital services, and/or NHS Number. The Public Health team is committed to using pseudonymised or anonymised information as much as is practical, and in many cases this will be the default position.

Pseudonymisation is a procedure by which data that could identify an individual is replaced by a fictitious reference. For example a name could be replaced by a code number, rendering the data record less identifying.

Anonymisation is the process of removing identifying particulars or details from a record for statistical or other purposes.

The local authority also may provide the local NHS (eg North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust) with information on pupils (eg names and addresses) in order to facilitate vaccination and screening programmes, where necessary.

Any information held by the council about individuals will be held securely (encrypted where applicable) and in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Information will not be held for longer than required and will be disposed of securely.

The legal basis for the flow of data for the above purposes is set out in Section 42(4) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act (2007) as amended by section 287 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012) and Regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002.

You have the right to opt out of St Helens Council receiving or holding your personal identifiable information. There are occasions where service providers will have a legal duty to share information, for example for safeguarding or criminal issues. The process for opting out will depend on the specific data and what programme it relates to.

COVID-19 vaccination programme

The Department of Health and Social Care is rolling out a COVID-19 vaccination programme based on cohorts meeting specific criteria. In order to ensure you are given the opportunity to take up this vaccination we may share minimum and proportionate information about you to our NHS partners. Your rights under Data Protection Law remain unaffected.

For information, please contact our Public Health team:

St Helens Public Health
St Helens Borough Council
Atlas House
Corporation St
St Helens

For further guidance, the Information Commissioner is an independent regulator who provides advice and guidance on and enforces the Data Protection Act (DPA).

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Last modified on 11 January 2022