Code of Confidentiality


Confidentiality is one of the foundation stones of any support work. People may be feeling vulnerable as a result of their illness and all that is going on in their lives. Great sensitivity to their needs, both spoken and unspoken is essential. In order to feel able to speak freely, people in need must be able to trust the person they are talking to. This trust takes time to build up. Assuring them of our respect and our confidentiality is an important way of building this trust. Any breaches in this policy, intentional or other-wise, can destroy a fragile person, and can become the first step towards bringing CSF into disrepute.

Client disclosures

Volunteers undertake to treat information about clients as private and confidential. This undertaking continues after the volunteer and/or client ends their relationship with the Cancer Support organisation, for whatever reason.
Clients need to understand that some information may be made available to other members of the Cancer Support team in some circumstances. This may happen:

  • when the volunteer needs to consult a fellow team member for information on how best to support the client;
  • when a volunteer needs support for him/herself from a fellow team member relating to their volunteer work in the organisation.

Exceptional circumstances may make it necessary to disclose information to a third party, wherever possible after discussion with, and with the prior consent of the person concerned. Disclosure of information would only be made:

  • if required by law or a court order;
  • if justified in the wider public interest, for example to protect the client or others from the risk of significant harm;
  • if a client made a formal complaint against a volunteer or the organisation, in response to such a complaint.

Any information given would be restricted to the minimum necessary in any of these situations, and disclosed only to someone with a legitimate need to know it.
Volunteers will take responsibility for:

  • explaining the confidentiality policy to each client during their first contact/visit;
  • explaining to the client that the organisation cannot guarantee the confidentiality of any information shared by email, because the nature of the internet means this is beyond the organisation’s control.

Confidentiality of written information

Whether personal information on both clients and volunteers is kept in a branch office or elsewhere, it needs to be kept secure. Paper information needs to be stored in a locked facility, accessible only to those entitled to see it. For information stored on computers, associations like ours are exempt from registering under the French equivalent of Data Protection legislation. However, there is a requirement to inform anyone whose personal information is held on the computer, what information is being held. They are entitled to view the information, and to correct or delete it if they want to.

The organisation and its members cannot be held responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of information which is already in the public domain.

Policy agreed by the Conseil d’Administration of CSF National

February 2012

Linda Shepherd
President CSF National