Helpline Confidentiality Statement

Last updated 22 February 2024

Disclaimer: The Versus Arthritis Helpline team are not medically trained and we are therefore unable to provide medical information or advice. We recommend you check with your local medical professional if you have any questions or concerns.

The Versus Arthritis (VA) Helpline is a free service which offers a space to talk so that you don’t need to face arthritis alone. Our advisors aim to bring all information and advice about arthritis into one place to provide tailored support to you.

We help with over 200 arthritis conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout.

The service we provide is confidential, whether you contact us by phone or in writing (including social media and email or letter), though there are some specific occasions where we may need to break that confidentiality for various reasons (these are listed below).

We won’t share your data with anyone outside of VA and we won't use your information to send you any marketing information unless you have opted in to receive this. The information you provide is restricted to the Helpline team.

We may pass on your details to another team (such as our Campaigns or Supporter Care teams), but we will let you know if we need to do this and will obtain your consent first. This is usually when you ask for help or information from another part of our organisation.

Information we collect, why we collect it, and where it's stored

We maintain a secure database that only Helpline staff can access. The database contains details of your contact with us (which will be either by phone, letter, or email). With your consent, your name, age, and first part of your postcode will be captured. However, everyone has the choice to remain anonymous if they choose.

We collect details of your enquiry to help us understand how effective our service is, who we're reaching, and how we can support more people with arthritis and to enable us to review previous conversations as necessary to assist with ongoing enquiries. We ask for consent to capture your contact details and keep a log of the enquiry.

If you provide your name and/or address, for example if you ask us to send you information by post, your details will be stored on our helpline and charity database (thankQ), but health enquiry details are only visible to the Helpline team.

When you call us, details of your conversation with us will be entered into our internal database. Your call with us will be recorded to monitor the quality of our service and support the training of our staff.

Unless you give permission to store your contact number, it will not be stored on our internal database but will be linked on our technology and to the recording of your call unless you have called us anonymously. Our call recording system is separate to our database and isn't linked with the details of your call.

We won't use your number to contact you without your consent and we won't pass your number to anyone else unless confidentiality must be broken (in the exceptions to the policy stated below).

When you email us, consent is detailed in a disclaimer reply about how your details are stored and we'll use your email address for the purpose of responding to your enquiry.

Where you contact us via social media and we reply, we won't delete your posts, unless the content posted is offensive or inappropriate. It is your responsibility to remove any posts that you no longer want in the public domain. Social media enquiries are always logged on our internal database as anonymous.

We may ask you for feedback to help us improve the quality of our services, and to help us demonstrate the impact we have. If you provide your consent, we will send you our evaluation survey via post or email and replies will be logged anonymously.

How long do we keep your information for?

In 2021, we undertook accessibility audits on:

  • If you give us any personal data – name, number, address, health information we will record this on our database, which is only accessible by the Helpline team. Your contact details are visible on our charity database (thankQ).

  • When you call us (including voicemails) these are recorded and saved in our call centre technology for 6 months

  • If you contact us by mail, your letter is confidentially destroyed after we respond to you and your contact details are saved on our helpline and charity database thankQ. We will use this information to send you information we feel is of interest to you. However, you can opt-out at any time if you do not wish to be contacted by us.

Who can access your information?

Only Helpline staff at VA can access the information you give us. We won't share your information unless there is a reason to break confidentiality, as listed below.

Occasions where we would break confidentiality

There are times where we'll need to break confidentiality that are listed below, though this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Where information of terrorism, money laundering or a bomb threat is disclosed to us
  • If we receive a court order or so that we can comply with our legal obligations to share information.
  • If we become aware, hear about or suspect that abuse/harm may have taken place or may occur in relation to any adult or child.
  • If our staff or service is abused.
  • If we believe someone is taking steps to end their life.

Please refer to our Safeguarding Commitments Policy for more details. If appropriate, we will inform you that we're going to do this.

For further information about how we use your personal information, please see our Privacy Notice.