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Health Act 1999

Section 43: Health Service Commissioners

286.This section amends section 15 of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (as amended by the Health Service Commissioners (Amendment) Act 1996). Section 15 of the 1993 Act sets out the circumstances in which a Health Service Commissioner or any of his officers may disclose information obtained in the course of or for the purposes of an investigation by a Commissioner of a complaint by a patient about services provided under the National Health Service. Section 15 also specifies the type of information which may be disclosed, to whom it may be disclosed and the persons who must be informed of the disclosure.

287.Section 43 amends section 15 of the 1993 Act in three ways. Firstly it removes some of the restrictions in section 15 as to the circumstances in which a Commissioner has discretion to pass information he obtains as a result of a complaint made to him. In particular it gives him discretion to disclose such information where it is obtained for the purposes of an investigation and is to the effect that a person is likely to constitute a threat to the health or safety of patients.

288.Secondly, section 43 removes the latter half of section 15(1B) of the 1993 Act which deals with persons to whom a Commissioner may disclose information. Although the latter half of that section was worded in terms which implied that it was simply a list of examples of the type of persons to whom information may be disclosed, the provision could be interpreted as defining the class of such persons and thereby restricting a Commissioner’s power to disclose information. Section 43 therefore removes the list.

289.Thirdly, section 43 places a new requirement on a Health Service Commissioner to inform the provider of information that he has disclosed, that he has disclosed such information. This provision is in line with current practice.

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