National Data Guardian, Information Commissioner and CMO for England call for effective information sharing

A call to action emphasising the duty of health and social care staff to share information on patient care has been published by NHS England, originating from national data guardian Dr Nicola Byrne, information commissioner John Edwards and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Witty.

The call to action highlights that “people have the right to expect that their health or care provider will have access to the most current and accurate information about their condition”, and adds that access to this information is “essential” to support healthcare professionals in making informed decisions about treatment and overall wellbeing.

Whilst it acknowledges that there are “anxieties around information governance and confidentiality”, the call to action goes on to stress that it is the “responsibility of those involved in a person’s care to provide relevant information about them, both within and outside of their own organisations, to ensure that safe and joined-up care can be given.”

Byrne, Edwards and Whitty state that they “want to be clear that data protection isn’t a barrier to providing continuous patient care across disciplines or specialities” and that in “most circumstances”, this information can be shared without fear of “getting into trouble”. They add that the duty to share information is as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality.

The call to action points to a resource published last year on using and sharing information with confidence, which can be found here. In addition, health and social care staff are directed to information governance guidance on NHSE’s website, along with an online training module.

If staff have any concerns or are unsure about an information-sharing situation, they are encouraged to contact their organisation’s Caldicott guardian, data protection officer, or senior staff.

We previously covered a statement from the national data guardian around the NHS Federated Data Platform here, and shared guidance on carrying out public benefit evaluations for data usage in planning, research and innovation here.

You can watch the statement below: