Dr Cole & Partners


Waterside & Blackfield GP Surgery   

Waterside (Hythe) & Blackfield Health Centres

Fair Processing Notice – Female Genital Mutilation Information

With regards to the collection of patient identifiable Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) information, in common law terms, an individual’s explicit consent can provide the lawful basis to override confidentiality. For good reasons, that consent is not being sought in this case. A Direction has been issued to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) from Department of Health (DH) which outlines a formal legal requirement on the HSCIC to process data, and such requirements override the usual rules around common law and confidentiality, as long as:

a) there is a clear explanation to a patient about what is happening to their data, what the Data Protection Act (DPA) terms as ‘fair processing’ and,

b) a ‘fair processing’ route to handle any objections to the collection

Section 10 of the DPA gives individuals the right to send a formal notice to a data controller requesting they stop processing data because it will cause substantial damage or substantial distress and that this would be unwarranted. The obligation on the data controller is not to automatically accept such a notice but to respond within 21 days saying that they will either accept the notice and stop the processing, or that the notice is unjustified and won’t be accepted.

However, due to commitments made by the Secretary of State, patient objections for FGM collections are to be treated as an automatic stop processing request. This is a policy decision that goes beyond the law’s requirements.

The Directions are an alternative to Section 251 support. The policy of the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG) is that Section 251 is to be used where there is no alternative. The Directions under Section 254 provide that alternative. Furthermore, a Direction under Section 254 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 provides a formal legal basis for the HSCIC to process data and this overrides the common law duty of confidence. It also provides the lawful basis required by the DPA. While consent is not required, transparency (fair processing) is.

Further information

More information about FGM Data Set and its uses is available from Department of Health and Health Education England.


More information about Female Genital Mutilation is available from NHS Choices Website: