Group of healthcare professionals talking in a group depicting patient data sharing

Staff must share data to improve NHS care, health leaders say

Some of the country’s foremost health leaders have come together to launch a call to NHS staff urging them to not see data protection as an obstacle to providing high-quality patient care.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, the information commissioner, John Edwards, and the national data guardian, Dr Nicola Byrne, released a joint statement highlighting that, while it is wise to be diligent about confidential data, this should not come at the expense of people’s care.

“We want to be clear that data protection isn’t a barrier to providing continuous patient care across disciplines or specialities, the joint statement read. “In most circumstances, you can share this information without fear of getting into trouble.”

It is emphasised that the duty to share information for individual care is as crucial as the duty to protect confidentiality, as seen in Caldicott principle seven.

                                                               Video credit: NHS England

“Currently the NHS has multiple data systems that do not talk to one another; we need to change that,” said Whitty separately in an article published in the Times.

The call comes in conjunction with the announcement of a series of events beginning in the new year, where the NHS will commence a national conversation on the use of health data, and ask the pubic to shape future policy.

Rachel Clarke, senior policy engagement officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office, recently penned a piece for National Health Executive’s online magazine exploring the issue of personal information in healthcare.

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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