Confidentiality and the Advice Service

The Union of Students Advice Service is a confidential and independent service. Maintaining confidentiality and trust with students is given the highest priority.

In accordance with this, all meetings are held privately and anything a student says will be treated in strict confidence within the team in line with Union of Students Advice Service confidentiality policy.

This confidentiality is guaranteed, except where one or more of the following statements applies:

  • Conflict of Interest - where the Advice Service identifies a potential conflict of interest, which necessitates informing one party that we can no longer act on their behalf this, may draw attention to the fact that we are already acting on behalf of another party. In these circumstances, the compromised party will be informed of the breach and no further action will be disclosed
  • Where required to by an Act of Parliament
  • Where required to by order of a Court of Law
  • We have information indicating a serious risk to a student or others
  • There is a risk to a person who is under the age of 18 or an adult with care and support needs
  • We have information relating to a possible act of terrorism
  • We have information relating to money laundering and/or drug trafficking
  • If a Union of Students Advice Service staff member would be liable to civil or criminal court proceedings if information was not disclosed externally

The full Union of Students Advice Service confidentiality policy is available below:


Advice Service Confidentiality Policy

July 2020

Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that information held by the Union of Students Advice Service, is managed appropriately and consistently. The Union of Students Advice Service is a confidential service and staff within the Union of Students Advice Service are committed to ensuring your personal information is protected in line with this policy, the Union of Students Advice Service Advisor Confidentiality Policy and GDPR regulations.

Student Records

Information about students accessing the Union of Students Advice Service is held within Advice Pro, the service’s case management system used to service the needs of students using our advice service. This information can only be accessed by a member of staff within the Union of Students Advice Service, as needed to carry out their duties. The Union of Students Advice Service record system may hold information provided by the student and/or third parties.

In addition, members of staff within the Union of Students Advice Service have access to some of the information held in the University student record system. Further information on how the Union of Students handles student information can be found on the Union of Students website.

Consent to Share

The sharing of identifiable, personal and sensitive information about you can only happen with your prior consent. This means that you will have to decide who we can share information with and what information that is.

A student can request for information to be shared through the completion of the Union of Students Advice Service consent to share form, which is available upon request from your assigned advisor.

Following consent, the Union of Students Advice Service ensures that the information is shared in line with the agreed information on the consent to share form and that it is shared responsibly and securely.

Internal Information Sharing

Information held within the Union of Students Advice Service may be discussed within the Union of Students Advice Service for the purposes of supervision and co-ordinating support for students.

The Union of Students Advice Service will not share information about a student with any other department within the Union of Students without the student’s express permission. However, where permission cannot be obtained and there is a cause for concern, then limited, factual, information may still be shared.

External Information Sharing

The Union of Students Advice Service will seek to gain a student’s consent before discussing their case with any external agency including University of Derby staff members.

However, there may be occasions when we recognise a student or someone else is at risk of harm and it is in their best interest for the external sharing of information to take place, even if consent cannot be obtained.

Any disclosure of confidential information will be restricted to relevant information and communicated only to appropriate people, for reasons as set out below:

  • Conflict of Interest - where the Advice Service identifies a potential conflict of interest, which necessitates informing one party that we can no longer act on their behalf this, may draw attention to the fact that we are already acting on behalf of another party. In these circumstances, the compromised party will be informed of the breach and no further action will be disclosed
  • Where required to by an Act of Parliament
  • Where required to by order of a Court of Law
  • We have information indicating a serious risk to a student or others
  • There is a risk to a person who is under the age of 18 or an adult with care and support needs
  • We have information relating to a possible act of terrorism
  • We have information relating to money laundering and/or drug trafficking
  • If a Union of Students Advice Service staff member would be liable to civil or criminal court proceedings if information was not disclosed externally

Information Sharing and Suicide Prevention

The Union of Students Advice Service’s practice, in relation to data sharing is in line with the Information Sharing and Suicide Prevention Consensus Statement and is recognised as best practice.

The information Sharing and Suicide Prevention Consensus Statement states that practitioners should disclose relevant confidential information to an appropriate person – including family or friends – or authority to protect a vulnerable person from risk of death or serious harm. It also states that practitioners should use their professional judgment to determine what is in the person’s best interest.

We will only contact people or services, without a person’s consent, when there is significant safety concern and it is believed that this action will protect the person from risk of death or serious harm. This action will only be taken if the person will not provide or consent or they are assessed as not having mental capacity to consent.

This relies on effective professional judgment, working with each individual person, to identify the appropriate service/person, who are best situated, to protect them from risk of death or serious harm.

The decision to share information, without consent, will only be made by the Inclusion and Support Manager and this decision would be in conjunction with the student's primary advisor. In the absence of the Inclusion and Support Manager, the advisor would discuss the potential information share with the Membership Engagement Manager or CEO.

Access to Records

Students’ have a right to any information stored about them. The only exception to this is if the disclosure of information would be likely to cause serious harm to physical or mental health or which would breach the confidentiality of another person. If the decision is made to without information, justified reason will be recorded.

If a student wishes to have access to the information stored about them by the Union of Students Advice Service or they wish us to share information with a third person they should discuss this with a member of the Union of Students Advice Service team. To request a copy of your own personal data you can contact the Support and Inclusion Manager by emailing emma.taylor@derbyunion.co.uk. Further information on access to your data and time scales can be found on our website.

We will not provide access to our records if requested by other parties unless directed by a court order.

Retention of Records

All records will be retained for six years from the end of the academic year in which a students case is closed by the Union of Student’s Advice Service. At the end of this time, records are deleted securely. If a student wishes to withdraw consent to their records being stored, this can be done by contacting the Support and Inclusion Manager by emailing emma.taylor@derbyunion.co.uk.

Further information on how we handle students’ information can be found on our website.