Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt will today (13 November 2014) appoint independent expert Dame Fiona Caldicott to a new role as National Data Guardian for health and care. Following the appointment of the Chief Inspector of Hospitals to speak out about standards of care, the National Data Guardian will become the patients’ champion on security of personal medical information.
The extra legislative safeguards will mark a significant step forward for safe and confidential information sharing between health and care organisations.
In a speech to the King’s Fund today the Secretary of State will say:
We need to be as determined to guarantee personal data is protected as we are enthusiastic to reap the benefits of sharing it.
Dame Fiona will oversee the safe use of people’s personal health and care information and hold organisations to account if there is any cause for concern, ensuring public confidence.
Dame Fiona and her panel, the Independent Information Governance Oversight Panel, currently provide advice to the government on healthcare information sharing, but today’s appointment strengthens her powers.
Dame Fiona will be able to intervene if she is concerned by how an organisation is sharing data. She can refer concerns directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to investigate and sanction where necessary. Organisations that fail to act on her recommendations will face sanctions such as fines and the removal of the right to share personal data.
No data will be extracted from GP practices as part of the care data programme until Dame Fiona has advised the Secretary of State that she is satisfied with the proposals and safeguards.
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt is expected to say:
I am delighted that Dame Fiona Caldicott, who has done so much outstanding work in this area, has agreed to be the first National Data Guardian for health and care. She has agreed that it will be her responsibility to raise concerns publicly about improper data use.
I intend to put the National Data Guardian on a legal footing at the earliest opportunity, but the CQC and ICO have decided to sanction organisations that do not comply with her recommendations even before that legislation is passed so patients will benefit immediately from the security of a much tougher and more transparent regime.
Dame Fiona Caldicott, National Data Guardian said:
Everyone should feel confident that their healthcare information is shared safely.
As the first National Data Guardian I am committed to holding the health and social care system to account and acting on behalf of patients and care users.