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National Data Guardian (NDG) statement on government response to the NDG Review

Dame Fiona Caldicott welcomes the government response to her Review of Data Security, Consent and Opt-Out

National Data Guardian for Health and Care (NDG), Dame Fiona Caldicott yesterday welcomed the government’s publication of Your Data: Better Security, Better Choice, Better Care.

Last year Dame Fiona published a Review of Data Security, Consent and Opt-Out, which proposed measures to strengthen the security of health and care information and help people make informed choices about how their data is used.

In the review, the NDG argued that the public should be engaged about how their information is used and safeguarded and the benefits of data sharing, with a wide-ranging consultation on her proposals as a first step. On the day the report was published, the government launched a public consultation on her recommendations, the proposed new data security standards and proposed national opt-out.

The government has now published its response

Responding to the government’s response Dame Fiona Caldicott, said:

I welcome the government response to the review that I published last year and am very pleased that my recommendations on data security, and on giving people choice about how their health and care data is used, have been accepted.

Past failures to use patient data safely and respectfully have been well-publicised. But I believe that if the right steps are taken now, the great benefits of using such data can become just as familiar to the public in the future.

All of us want to see our health and care services deliver better, more compassionate, efficient treatments and services for ourselves, our families, our friends and neighbours and everyone in society.

We are fortunate to be living at a time when technological advances offer extraordinary opportunities for patient data to be used to improve people’s individual care and to improve health, care and services through research and planning.

We are only able to harness those opportunities if the public trusts that the health and care system is doing all it can to keep the data secure, to meet expectations on confidentiality and to be transparent.

There is still little public awareness of the way information collected by health and care services is currently shared, and that trust has not yet been earned. I believe that the implementation of my recommendations will be an important step in this process.

I do not underestimate the challenges of this implementation. It will involve a great deal of work, including the building of technical solutions, support and training for staff, and not least culture change. Most importantly it will involve an ongoing conversation with the public about how data is used and what choices people can make.

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