Department of Health and Social Care publishes update on data access policy

The Department of Health and Social Care has published an update on its data access policy, setting out a number of updated commitments on plans to move to a system of ‘data access as default’, including that all SDEs must be compliant with the national data opt-out; that the NHS Research SDE Network will consolidate multiple data access route into one Data Access Committee per region; and that public and patient engagement is to support implementation of that network.

Intended for a technology-focused audience such as data controllers and platform providers, the update is based on the 12 policy guidelines for Secure Data Environments (SDEs) from September 2022, as well as feedback around a proposed draft of the update in May this year.

“One strategic decision this engagement has facilitated is to take a phased and incremental approach to delivering data access as default for the secondary uses of NHS data,” DHSC states. “This acknowledges the complexity and scale of the change, as well as the number of unknowns that need to be worked through before further strategic decisions are taken, while allowing us to learn from investments and practical delivery experience.”

Click here to access the data access policy update in full.

Earlier in the week, we shared the news that NHS England is planning to hold “large-scale engagement events” designed to gather public views on digital and data, with the feedback expected to help shape how health data is used to improve patient care.

Yesterday we covered how work is underway to expand the London Care Record to neighbouring areas, to support instances when people from outside the capital are referred for treatment and care in London.

Last month, we published the key points of a call to action from national data guardian Dr Nicola Byrne, information commissioner John Edwards and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Witty, which emphasises the duty of health and social care staff to share information to support informed decision-making.