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1.6.4 Guidance for Sending Correspondence by Post, Email and Fax

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The purpose of this guidance is to set out the steps to be followed when sending personal data and/or sensitive personal data by post, email or fax.

This chapter was added to the manual in December 2013.


Contents

  1. Post (External)
  2. Post (Internal)
  3. Email
  4. Fax


1. Post (External)

Where a practitioner (e.g. social worker) has a pre-planned visit, or it is deemed good practice to discuss particular documents with a parent/carer (e.g. child protection minutes), then the correspondence should be hand delivered.

When preparing correspondence to be sent by post, staff should:

  • Confirm that the address details on the electronic system (e.g. Mosaic) correspond with the address on the letter:
    • In the event of a discrepancy (i.e. address details do not match) the staff member should contact the relevant practitioner (e.g. social worker) to confirm the correct address and advise that the details on the electronic system should be updated immediately. It is the practitioner’s responsibility to ensure that the address on Mosaic is kept up to date;
    • The staff member responsible for sending the letter should then check the electronic system the following day to ensure the details have been updated. Where the details have not been updated this should be escalated further.
  • Where correspondence is being sent to family members with the same name, extra care should be taken to ensure that the correct person can be identified;
  • Contents to be checked to ensure that all documents and all attachments relate to the correct child;
  • Always check information systems to make sure there are no restrictions on what information should be disclosed;
  • Where sensitive personal data is being sent then a secondary peer check must take place before the correspondence is sent out. Sensitive personal data includes information about physical or mental health, sexual life, commission or alleged commission of offences, religious beliefs and racial or ethnic origin.

    Secondary peer check consists of another staff member carrying out 2 checks:
    1. Address on correspondence to be checked on the electronic system including any invite list if applicable;
    2. Contents of the correspondence to be checked to ensure that all documents and all attachments relate to the correct child.

      NB - Any discrepancies must be dealt with and appropriately escalated.
  • Correspondence should normally be sent 2nd class via the LCC Mail Room using a C5 window envelope with the name and address clearly visible and with a return address on the back of the envelope. 1st class to be used where necessary to meet a statutory deadline or if sufficiently urgent.


2. Post (Internal)

  • Specialist envelopes marked ‘for internal use’ with specialist grids on should be used for sending personal data and sensitive personal data within LCC. The envelope should be clearly marked with the intended recipient’s name and address.

    NB - Staff have a responsibility to ensure that their details on ‘Insite’ are up to date at all times.


3. Email

  • Before using your leeds.gov.uk email address you should consider whether it is a suitable means of communication depending on the nature of the correspondence and the sensitivity of the information it contains;
  • Sensitive personal data must be emailed externally in a secure way i.e. by a secure email account such as GCSx or by secure file transfer. For further information on secure methods of communication please contact your local Business Relations Manager;
  • If a service user’s preferred method of communication is by email then ensure that you are always replying to an email to minimise the risk of entering the wrong email address and keep the amount of personal data in the body of an email to a minimum. Sensitive personal data must still be sent in a secure way;
  • Double check the recipient of an email is the intended recipient before pressing send;
  • Similarly, consider whether the auto-complete email address function should be disabled;
  • If using a group email distribution list then check that it is up to date, that everyone on the list does need to receive the email, and that it is appropriately named so that it cannot easily be mistaken by employees;
  • Make sure you use blind carbon copy (bcc) when you don’t want to reveal the address of other recipients;
  • Personal email accounts should not be used for business purposes. You should not forward emails containing personal data from your LCC email account to your personal email account;
  • Do not give out personal information in response to emails until you are satisfied as to the identity of the person requesting the information and that it is a legitimate request. 


4. Fax

Fax (for internal or external purposes) should only be used where alternative means of communication are not available. Fax is regarded as an outdated means of communication and the risk of human error with using fax is high.

  • Check fax numbers before sending and where possible use pre-installed fax numbers;
  • Always use fax header sheets which include instructions on appropriate action for unintended recipients;
  • Check faxes have been received by the recipient.

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