I've spent the last few months working with criminals.
No, not the patients. Us, the staff. My colleagues, and me.
We receive referrals from our neighbouring acute hospital Trust. They've an endless stream of delirium, dementia, depression (and placement issues and capacity assessments) to sort out, frequently with disturbed patients battering their staff. We accept the appropriate referrals, we go to their hospital, we can't park, we return home. But sometimes, just sometimes, we get to see their patients. We speak with the ward staff, read the notes, meet the patient then document our contact contemporaneously in their medical records in keeping with the GMC's direction, "Good Medical Practice" document, Good Clinical Care, "In providing care you must . . . make records at the same time as the events you are recording or as soon as possible afterwards."
I heard today from a Caldicott Guardian (the chap responsible for protecting patient information) from another Trust that the Data Protection Act makes this unlawful. We can't read or see or use their notes at all. Clinical details of their Trust's patients (including referral details) are protected by the Data Protection Act. It's unlawful to rummage around in them.