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Confidentiality is an implied component of the doctor/patient relationship. Patients have a right to expect that the information they divulge to their doctors will be kept confidential and will not enter the public domain. However, this duty of confidentiality is not an absolute one, and difficulties arise where there are two competing public interests.;This document is concerned with the security issues related to health care. The work summarizes the legal, ethical and regulatory position in England and Wales regarding the collection and use of sensitive information by the health care professions. Appendices cover social care and forthcoming European Community legislation.