News story

Dame Fiona Caldicott to lead confidentiality review

Government review of the balance between protecting patient information and its sharing, to improve patient care.

Dame Fiona Caldicott has agreed to lead an independent from Government review of the balance between protecting patient information and its sharing, to improve patient care.

The Department expects to respond to the panel’s recommendations when the review publishes during 2012.

The recommendation for a review of the balance between protecting patient information and its sharing, to improve patient care was part of the Future Forum’s recommendations to Government on the modernisation of health and care.

Set up as an independent group in order to ‘pause, listen and reflect’ on the Health and Social Care Bill, the Forum made 16 key recommendations in total.

Dame Fiona is known across the NHS as the originator of ‘Caldicott Guardians’, the individuals responsible in every NHS and local authority organisation for making decisions about sharing identifiable information.  This requires balancing the public interest of protecting confidential information with the public interest for sharing the information.  She will be calling on an expert panel made up of clinical, social care, research and other professionals, as well as patients and service users. The panel will determine the detailed scope and priorities for the review.

Dame Fiona Caldicott said:

“It is timely to reconsider the principles of information protection and sharing.  Since the original working group’s report on the security of patients’ information in 1997, it has become clear that there is sometimes a lack of understanding about the rules and this can act as a barrier to exchanging information that would benefit the patient.  On other occasions, this has resulted in too much information being disclosed.  These are issues of importance to everyone who uses health or social care services and our review will look across both sectors.  We need to examine when and how to seek and record consent, to support the flow of information to enhance patient and citizen care.”

Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State, said:

“Ensuring that information is shared for best care and to promote excellent research is central to the Government’s vision for the new health and care system, as is protecting confidential information.  This is a complex issue and I am most grateful that Dame Fiona has accepted the challenge - I can think of no better person to complete the review.”

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