Health Service Focus

13.12.16

Changing times for information governance in the NHS

Source: NHE Nov/Dec 16

Stephen Elgar from the Information Governance Alliance (IGA) reflects on the changes and challenges facing information governance professionals in the NHS.

Cyber security threats, the need for innovations and increasing pressure on back-office staff to deliver greater efficiencies are three of the biggest challenges facing information governance (IG) professionals in the NHS, NHE has been told. 

Speaking ahead of the IGA Conference, Stephen Elgar reflected on the growing cyber security threat facing all organisations, and individuals, working in the sector. 

Cyber security risk 

He focused on the growing threat of malware and Ransomware attacks on the service, which can result in criminals taking over entire file servers. In fact, as NHE went to print, Lincolnshire and Goole NHS FT and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust had to cancel a number of operations after a virus infected their systems. 

Discussing how trusts can improve their security, Elgar referred to the recent Caldicott Review, which stressed the need for ‘cyber essentials’ and attention to delivering “secure infrastructure”. 

Caldicott noted that the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance’s (CESG’s) Cyber Essentials, and the 10 Steps to Cyber Security, are available to use without expenditure on materials. 

These are focused on organisations taking steps towards creating and implementing controls to address the threats posed by network connectivity and internet-facing systems and services. 

However, while the review team found evidence of the CESG’s Cyber Essentials scheme being implemented successfully within 20 health and social care organisations, it is not yet widely used in health and care. 

Innovation and data sharing 

A further challenge facing the system is that of innovation, which Elgar said could be put under three headings: big data, apps and patient empowerment. 

The Caldicott Review recently noted that in the NHS, clinicians perceive that security is an obstacle to introducing innovation and digital healthcare, and that the present standards do not reflect the obligations of the health workforce. 

Reflecting on this, Elgar explained that big data offers a potential for people to join information together to deliver health improvements, and the way technology has matured has led to an influx of apps. There is a drive to enable patient empowerment with access to their information, allowing them to repeat prescriptions and to book appointments but interest in using these is likely to vary between different patient groups. 

All these developments come with IG implications, he said, and it is essential that the NHS explains what it does with patient information and that an effective dialogue is held with patients. 

“The NHS Information Board has commissioned this dialogue,” added Elgar. “We would like to see an informed debate so that when a healthcare professional says ‘are you happy for your information to be used for purposes other than your direct care’ that this is based on a common understanding.” 

By the next financial year, the IGA expects that the language for such discussions will be validated and articulated. This will then help shape a new consent model for the sharing of NHS information.

 Back-office pressures 

Elgar added that another challenging area is the growing pressure on back-office staff for greater efficiencies. 

“All back-office functions are being looked at to see if they can be done more efficiently,” he said. Reflecting on this, he noted that in the local government arena many councils have pooled their IG professionals into a central team – rather than having an IG specialist for each aspect of its business. 

“I think something similar will happen, and is probably happening already, in the NHS, a merger of governance and compliance teams,” he added.  

Asked about the impact of the 44 draft STPs, Elgar said it was likely to lead to big challenges for IG professionals. 

“The STPs mean that there is a plan for financial balance, and lowering costs in areas,” he said. “And I think there will be a drive for merging back-office services across trusts and also outsourcing – all of which have an IG dimension.” 

NHE was told that, historically, IG focused on compliance, but it is going to have to change with the increased cyber security risk, and the need to be flexible and nimble in supporting the changes of business process that will come out of STPs. 

Asked whether the profession could handle this, Elgar said: “I think IG people will play their part in this period of change. I think it is going to be a very difficult time. Fundamentally, it [STPs] is about lowering cost, so it is going to be a stressful time for everyone.” 

Caldicott Guardians 

Discussing the recent National Data Guardian Review and the role of Caldicott Guardians, Elgar added that their role is shifting to have a greater emphasis on supporting appropriate sharing of information. 

“Historically organisations had relatively few channels for information to be shared. Going forward, they will have to have ways of tracking what is being shared routinely and assessing that it is being shared and handled appropriately,” said Elgar. 

He understands that the Guardians will be supported by a “refreshed manual”. “They have a national council and there are currently half a dozen local groups and we are hoping for much wider coverage. The Council and the IGA are here to answer difficult questions from the frontline.” 

Although Elgar identified challenging times were ahead of IG professionals in the NHS, he was confident about the new world it will help shape: “It looks as if we are not going to accept an NHS without strong technology.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

W: http://systems.digital.nhs.uk/infogov/iga

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Doctors call for ‘black alert’ to be introduced in general practice

26/06/2017Doctors call for ‘black alert’ to be introduced in general practice

Doctors have called on the government to introduce a “black alert” for GPs so that clinicians can alert authorities when surgeries ar... more >
Surgeons back proposals to improve regulation of cosmetic surgery

26/06/2017Surgeons back proposals to improve regulation of cosmetic surgery

Surgeons have this week backed a private members’ bill that has been tabled and seeks to improve the regulation of cosmetic surgery. I... more >
BMA: Government wants world-class NHS with a third-class settlement

26/06/2017BMA: Government wants world-class NHS with a third-class settlement

Public satisfaction rates with the NHS has plummeted, the BMA has today stated as a survey found that more people were dissatisfied with the heal... more >

editor's comment

13/06/2017Tackling the major challenges facing the NHS

As you will have gathered from the front cover, a theme that runs throughout this edition of NHE is about empowering and involving the workforce in order to deliver innovative change across the system.  Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, highlights on page 16 the importance of sustainability and trans... read more >

last word

A clear strategy for change is needed for health and social care

A clear strategy for change is needed for health and social care

Nigel Edwards, CEO at the Nuffield Trust, argues that it would be a lost opportunity if the next government does not seek to put both health and social care funding on a more sustainable footing.... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Confed17 open its doors in Liverpool today

14/06/2017Confed17 open its doors in Liverpool today

Confed 17, the major annual NHS Confederation conference, has kicked off today in ACC Liverpool, inviting in more than 1,000 health and care leaders to discuss and review the long-term demand patterns needed in the sector. Highlights of the two-day conference will be a keynote address from NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens, as well as health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s first major public appearance since he was reappoi... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

A hub for healthy communities

23/06/2017A hub for healthy communities

Mark Robinson, New NHS Alliance pharmacy lead, discusses why pharmacy is at the heart of healthy living in communities – and explains how p... more >
Do something different

23/06/2017Do something different

Jill DeBene, chief executive of Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM), considers what workforce optimisation really means and the importance o... more >
The now and the future of infection prediction

23/06/2017The now and the future of infection prediction

Marco-Felipe King, an infection control postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering at the Universit... more >
Prime for transformation?

20/06/2017Prime for transformation?

The sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) programme should harness and drive digital innovation as a positive force to help overc... more >
The meanings of value

20/06/2017The meanings of value

Professor Sir Muir Gray, director of Better Value Healthcare, considers the meaning of value in NHS commissioning for both the system and patient... more >

interviews

Working collectively to improve cancer outcomes for patients

20/06/2017Working collectively to improve cancer outcomes for patients

Last year, the cancer vanguard established the Pharma Challenge. Rob Duncombe, pharmacy director at the Christie NHS FT, gives NHE an update on t... more >
A great place to work

16/06/2017A great place to work

The Walton Centre NHS FT has been identified by NHS England as one of only 12 exemplar organisations in the NHS for its work in health and wellbe... more >
A fork in the road for the NHS

06/06/2017A fork in the road for the NHS

Niall Dickson, chief executive of NHS Confederation, talks to NHE’s Josh Mines ahead of Confed2017 about the organisation’s 10-p... more >
Tight timetable for nursing associate  regulation

28/03/2017Tight timetable for nursing associate regulation

Jackie Smith, chief executive at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), talks to NHE’s David Stevenson about the challenges her organisat... more >
Improving the flow

13/02/2017Improving the flow

Glen Burley, chief executive of South Warwickshire NHS FT, explains how his organisation has been able to improve patient flow through its emerge... more >