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COVID19 - How we use your information

This notice describes how we may use your information to protect you and others during the Covid-19 outbreak. It supplements our main Privacy Notice.

The health and social care system is facing significant pressures due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Health and care information is essential to deliver care to individuals, to support health and social care services and to protect public health. Information will also be vital in researching, monitoring, tracking and managing the outbreak. In the current emergency it has become even more important to share health and care information across relevant organisations.

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Existing law which allows confidential patient information to be used and shared appropriately and lawfully in a public health emergency is being used during this outbreak. Using this law, the Secretary of State has required NHS Digital; NHS England and Improvement; Arms Length Bodies (such as Public Health England); local authorities; health organisations and GPs to share confidential patient information to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. Any information used or shared during the Covid-19 outbreak will be limited to the period of the outbreak unless there is another legal basis to use the data. Further information is available on and some FAQs on this law are available on the NHS website.

During this period of emergency, opt-outs will not generally apply to the data used to support the Covid-19 outbreak, due to the public interest in sharing information. This includes National Data Opt-outs. It may also take us longer to respond to Subject Access requests, Freedom of Information requests and new opt-out requests whilst we focus our efforts on responding to the outbreak.

In order to look after your health and care needs we may share your confidential patient information including health and social care records with clinical and non-clinical staff in other primary health and social care providers, for example neighbouring GP practices, hospitals, community health services, voluntary sector and NHS 111. Examples of organisations assisting in the Council’s COVID19 response include but are not limited to:

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust
  • NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust
  • Age UK
  • Cornwall Council social care providers including care homes and home care services
  • Newton Europe Ltd
  • Housing providers

We will ensure we remain compliant with Data Protection legislation and will only share what is proportionate and necessary in order to provide a response to the COVID19 pandemic including relevant Council services.

We may also use the details we have to send public health messages to you, either by phone, text or email.

We will also be required to share personal/confidential patient information with health and care organisations and other bodies engaged in disease surveillance for the purposes of protecting public health, providing healthcare services to the public and monitoring and managing the outbreak. Further information about how health and care data is being used and shared by other NHS and social care organisations in a variety of ways to support the Covid-19 response.

NHS England and Improvement and NHSX have developed a single, secure store to gather data from across the health and care system to inform the Covid-19 response. This includes data already collected by NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England and NHS Digital. New data will include 999 call data, data about hospital occupancy and A&E capacity data as well as data provided by patients themselves. All the data held in the platform is subject to strict controls that meet the requirements of data protection legislation.

In such circumstances where you tell us you’re experiencing Covid-19 symptoms we may need to collect specific health data about you. Where we need to do so, we will not collect more information than we require and we will ensure that any information collected is treated with the appropriate safeguards.

The Council’s Neighbourhoods and Public Protection Service is also engaged in enforcement activities to ensure that citizens and businesses are abiding by legislation put in place to protect the spread of COVID19. We share information with Devon and Cornwall Police and Highways England in order for appropriate action to be taken

The easing of social and economic lockdown measures following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has asked organisations including Cornwall Council to support this service by keeping a temporary record of our customers and visitors for 21 days. Staff data will be obtained using office sign-in registers and the desk booking system. In the event of a local outbreak of the virus this data may be used to assist NHS Test and Trace as needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks.

The DHSC are clear that this is a voluntary scheme and nobody visiting our premises is required to provide their details. If you do not want any booking details you have supplied to be used for Test and Trace purposes please make this clear to a member of staff at the time of your visit.

Although this is a voluntary scheme we strongly encourage our customers and visitors to share their details in order to support NHS Test and Trace - this information will only be used where necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The accuracy of the information provided will be the responsibility of the individual who provides it. The Council will not verify any customer’s or visitor’s identity for NHS Test and Trace purposes.

We already collect and process information about persons visiting council premises, including for public functions, tours, weddings and meetings etc and the types of information we collect and use:

  • the name of the member of staff on the office sign-in sheet and desk booking system. Contact details will be obtained from Oracle in the case of an outbreak. Data may be retained for longer than 21 days as it is also used for fire safety purposes in the event of a fire alarm. 
  • the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then we can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group
  • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people
  • date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time

Recording both arrival and departure times (or estimated departure times) will help reduce the number of customers or visitors needing to be contacted by NHS Test and Trace. We recognise, however, that recording departure times will not always be practicable.

NHS Test and Trace QR posters have been created for key Cornwall Council buildings with public access and these can also be used by staff, customers and visitors if preferable.

We'll keep the information you give us in the Council’s electronic or physical secure storage facilities and make sure it can only be accessed by authorised staff.

In the event of a local outbreak of the corona virus names and contact details of customers and visitors to our sites will only be provided to the NHS to support Test and Trace when they ask for these records either because someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 has listed Council premises as a place they visited recently, or because our premises have been identified as the location of a potential local outbreak of COVID-19.

NHS Test and Trace will work with you, if contacted, to ensure that information is shared in a safe and secure way. See further information on how NHS Test and Trace works.

NHS Test and Trace will handle all data according to the highest ethical and security standards and ensure it is used only for the purposes of protecting public health, including minimising the transmission of COVID-19. The DHSC has a separate privacy notice to detail how they process personal data for Test and Trace purposes.

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace Contact tracersthey will:

  • call you from 0300 013 5000
  • send you text messages from ‘NHStracing’
  • ask you to sign into the NHS Test and Trace contact-tracing website

Contact tracers will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
  • ask about protected characteristics that are irrelevant to the needs of test and trace
  • provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

The Council is processing this personal information i.e. sharing with NHS Test and Trace, as it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest in accordance with Article 6 1 (e) of the General Data Protection Regulation.

The Council will not process any special category data for this purpose.

The Council will only keep the information which is collected and stored solely for NHS Test and Trace for 21 days. This reflects the incubation period for COVID-19 (which can be up to 14 days) and an additional 7 days to allow time for testing and tracing. After 21 days, this information will be securely disposed of or deleted.

We may amend this privacy notice at any time so please review it frequently. The date at the top of this page will be amended each time this notice is updated.

The following Test and Trace Support Payments Privacy Notice has been drafted by the Council's Revenues and Assessments Service.  It details how your information will be processed if you apply for support payments.

If you have any questions about our privacy notices please contact the Council’s Data Protection Officer at