Care Quality Commission
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CQC calls for better patient care by ensuring the right patient information is in the right place, at the right time

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today (Monday) urged healthcare organisations to make better use of the patient information that they collect so care can be shaped to the individual needs of each patient.  

The CQC looked at how healthcare organisations manage personal data.  The study found that healthcare organisations generally did not systematically use the non-clinical information they collected on patients to tailor healthcare services to the needs of individual patients. The notable exceptions were found in mental health providers. Deficiencies in the way in which personal information is handled can result in poor patient care, including delays in access to care (through missed appointments), loss of privacy and independence.   

The report says that sharing personal information effectively is a fundamental part of an integrated healthcare system.  The study found that healthcare organisations supported this in principle, but there were technical and cultural barriers to sharing patient information between healthcare and social care settings.

The regulator found that the basic systems for managing personal information in healthcare organisations have improved in the last three years, especially in light of concerns about the security of personal information.  The report shows that NHS trusts have improved their systems for handling patient information securely, confidentially and with patients’ consent.  However, more progress needs to be made to ensure that all healthcare organisations meet the Government’s expectations and priorities for managing health information.  

The report calls for healthcare organisations to monitor both the quality and timeliness of patient data.  It also highlights the need to align the systems used to collect and analyse data from NHS and independent sector health organisations so that patients have comparable accurate information to help them make healthcare choices.  

Cynthia Bower, CQC chief executive, said: ‘Healthcare organisations handle huge amounts of personal information about patients and staff every day.  It is crucial to the delivery of high quality care that this is done well ’.

‘Although there have been improvements in the systems to keep information secure, we are calling for more focus and action on ensuring that personal information is of high quality, that it is shared effectively with the right people, at the right time so that care is truly joined up and tailored to patient’s needs.’

Of staff surveyed over 80% were confident that patients’ information was treated confidentially in their organisation. However patients did not seem to share the same degree of confidence with 30% of patients responding to surveys saying they were not always given enough privacy when they discussed their condition or treatment. 

Download ‘The right information, in the right place, at the right time: A study of how healthcare organisations manage personal data’ (PDF, 861KB, opens in new window)

Notes for editors 

The CQC study used the term ‘information governance’ to describe the structures, policies and practices that ensure the confidentiality and security of the records of patients and service users.  The study also looked at the quality of information about patients and their care, how information is shared between healthcare organisations and with patients and their carers, and how clinical and non-clinical information about individual patients is used to shape their care.  

The study looked at information governance performance in healthcare organisations (NHS and selected independent sector healthcare providers) in England.  Independent sector healthcare organisations included private and voluntary organisations where over 50% of the patients were funded by the NHS.  These included Independent Sector Treatment Centres, mental health providers and hospices.  

The study found that in March 2009, some 70% of NHS trusts did not meet all the information governance requirements set out in the Government’s NHS Operating Framework 2009/2010. 

For further information please call James Hedges in the CQC press office on 0207 4480 868 or 07917 232 143 after hours.

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