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Government responds on cyber security and data

Plans to strengthen NHS and social care organisations against cyber attacks and protect patient data.

On 12 July 2017, the government announced that investment in data and cyber security will be boosted above £50 million - and include a new £21 million capital fund for major trauma centres - as part of its response to reviews and consultation feedback on these issues.

Your Data: Better Security, Better Choice, Better Care is the government’s response to the:

It sets out that the government accepts the recommendations in both the National Data Guardian review and the Care Quality Commission review.

‘Your Data: Better Security, Better Choice, Better Care’ announces that, to strengthen the safeguarding of information, the National Data Guardian’s position will be put on a statutory footing and stronger sanctions will be introduced by May 2018 to protect anonymised data, including severe penalties for negligent or deliberate re-identification of individuals.

It also announces plans to:

  • give patients and the public more access to, and control over, their personal data
  • build confidence in the importance of secure data to provide better individual care and treatment
  • support research and planning across the health system

To mitigate the immediate risks with cyber security, NHS Digital is supporting local organisations by:

  • broadcasting alerts about cyber threats
  • providing a hotline for dealing with incidents
  • sharing best practice across the health and care system
  • carrying out on-site assessments.

Work is underway in parallel to determine the fastest and most cost effective way to support the NHS to move from unsupported operating systems, including Windows XP.

The NHS contract has been changed so that NHS organisations are formally required to adopt data security standards as recommended by the independent National Data Guardian for Health and Care, including:

  • security training for staff
  • annual reviews of processes
  • extensive contingency plans to respond to threats to data security

Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said:

The NHS has a long history of safeguarding confidential data, but with the growing threat of cyber-attacks including the WannaCry ransomware attack in May, this government has acted to protect information across the NHS.

Only by leading cultural change and backing organisations to drive up security standards across the health and social care system can we build the resilience the NHS needs in the face of a global threat.

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