Question time

We answer your questions on: Where do I stand when patients want to video a treatment session? Each month, the CSP’s professional advisers share advice and guidance on a topical matter

PAS Question time

We are regularly asked questions relating to the rights of both staff and patients when it comes to recording a patient consultation. We answer some of your enquiries here

Can patients film their treatment sessions on health premises?

If filming captures other patients trusts may forbid it citing safeguarding, consent, capacity and confidentiality of other patients. Patients and their family/friends can film their own treatment if no other patient is recorded. Patients and relatives can record a consultation without your consent, because the information being recorded is personal to them and is exempt from the Data Protection Act (DPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

Can patients film their treatment sessions in their own homes?

Yes. It’s reasonable to expect that you are asked beforehand. You cannot refuse to be filmed in a patient’s home even if you object. Workers going into a person’s home need to understand that filming in domestic private property is exempt from GDPR and DPA requirements. 

Can you explain why there is a difference between private and  public use?

It all depends on context and the presumed use of the digital recordings. When you take a holiday photo you do not need to ask permission of all the people who may be in the background. This is because it is presumed the photo is for your own personal use. On the other hand, if a conference organiser wants to take publicity photos, then the organisers would need to tell all delegates about this as conferences are not private events.

Can I refuse to be filmed by a patient during a physiotherapy session?

You may object to being filmed if it captures other patients and raises safeguarding, consent, capacity and confidentiality issues for those patients. 

You can’t refuse to allow yourself to be filmed just with your patient. You should be  asked in advance but you cannot decline the patient’s request because the filming is presumed to be for private use. You can discuss with the patient that you do not want the images made public, for example by posting on social media, or that you are digitally anonymised.  

What if a patient posts the recording on social media?

Broadcasting  something on social media makes the information public, even if its original intended use was private. When a patient films their treatment tell the patient beforehand that you do not give permission for it to be shared publicly. If it is published, write to the patient and ask that the post is removed. If that fails, you can contact the social media platform and ask that they remove the content. However it  is not yet clear what enforcement options healthcare workers have. If you are employed and you believe the footage has been deliberately or  maliciously posted to criticise or harass you, you should seek the advice of your CSP  steward. If you are self-employed, or  run your own business, you may need to  seek your own legal advice. 

What else can filmed treatment sessions be used for?

Filming a patient by a clinician has long been a way of capturing elements of assessment and/or treatment progress as part of the clinical record. It is important to try and understand the reason a patient or their family want to film a session. In many cases patients want to share their positive experiences of recovery. 

Recordings may be used as evidence of  care provided, particularly if written records such as clinical records, patient information leaflets or consent forms are lacking, because a film can really capture what a practitioner told a patient word for word. While these recordings, whether made by a patient or by a clinician, could be used in malpractice claims, members should be reassured that there are strict rules for disclosure and admissibility of evidence to be used in litigation.

What workplace policies and procedures should be in place?

Employers and business owners in all settings should have policies in place covering safeguarding, capacity, consent for treatment and

The CSP’s Professional Advice Service gives advice and support to members on complex and specialist enquiries about physiotherapy practice, including professional practice issues, standards, values and behaviours, international working, service design and commissioning, and policy in practice. Find out more 

confidentiality in order to protect patient interests. Many employers will have a policy in place regarding patients filming their treatment. All members should be aware of, and follow, their local policies. You should also know who to report incidents to if you encounter patients and/or relatives filming in areas where other patients may be recorded. 

NHS Protect has useful guidance:

Patients recording NHS staff in health and social care settings

  • Julie Collins is a senior negotiating officer at the CSP and Pip White is  a CSP professional adviser

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