The communications team will release information about patients to the media only with the explicit consent of the individual concerned.
If an adult patient is incapable of giving informed consent, as judged by the clinical team, it may nevertheless be in his or her best interests for basic information to be released – for instance to correct misleading speculation.
In such cases the decision to pass on information will take account of the views of any carers or relatives with whom they are in contact. In the case of a child, a parent or guardian must consent.
An exception is when a patient or former patient, or those acting on his or her behalf, has invited the media to report on an aspect of his or her care. Where the resulting media coverage contains inaccuracies or unfair criticism, the trust may comment in public, using factual information to correct any potentially misleading reporting.
Another exception to this general rule is in the event of a a major incident. If the police or ambulance service has already released information about accident victims - for example the hospital to which they have been taken - then the communications team will confirm the presence of the patient and issue a brief indication of condition, such as “critical” or “stable”. If the patient’s name has not been released by the emergency services, the name will be withheld by the communications team and no detailed information will be given about injuries until such time the patient has consented and/or the next of kin have been informed.