DHSC seeks new national data guardian

The Department for Health and Social Care is searching for a new national data guardian to be an independent champion for patients and the public when it comes to matters of their confidential health and care information.

DHSC is offering up to £45,000 for two to three days per week, for the successful candidate to appoint and lead an independent panel to make sure that people’s information is kept safe and confidential, and that it is shared when appropriate to achieve better outcomes for patients.

The new data guardian will take over from Dame Fiona Caldicott, who was appointed the first national data guardian in 2014. Since April 2019 the role has been on a statutory footing and has the power to issue official guidance about the processing of health and adult social care data in England.

The candidate will be selected by a panel including Matthew Gould, chief executive at NHSX, departmental official Elizabeth Watkins and deputy director of data & information governance policy Simon Madden. The deadline for applications is 3rd September.

The purpose of the role is to ensure information is kept safe and confidential, by offering advice, guidance and encouragement to the health and care system.

The candidate must have “an understanding and experience of the practicalities of the security and use of sensitive data and the evolving technology that underpins it. Along with experience of using data to improve organisations and building data sharing within organisations.”

As part of the job advert it stated “this is a high-profile role which would ideally be filled by someone with knowledge of health and social care organisations and the system, the information governance framework within which they operate and in particular the common law duty of confidentiality, how modern information technology can impact on the privacy of individuals, and public attitudes towards the use of health and care data.”

In April 2020, HTN reported on a new national data guardian programme. The National Data Guardian for Health and Care announced a partnership with Understanding Patient Data and Sciencewise to explore how people weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of health and social care data sharing for research. The project was initiated before the COVID-19 pandemic, however the programme will explore the potential change in public attitudes, sentiment and knowledge in result. The programme will develop guidance to be published in 2021 to support a wide range of data sharing scenarios from across health and social care.