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NHS Confederation comments on publication of Information: To Share Or Not To Share?

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar welcomes the publication of Dame Fiona Caldicott's updated review of information governance.The best practice and recommendations in last week's report set out a wise approach to protecting and sharing confidential information which will benefit patients and allow the health service to what it can and should do, when, and with what.

"With every piece of patient information, the NHS has two responsibilities - to maintain confidentiality and to make sure that information works hard to improve patient care. Many staff feel like they're caught between a rock and a hard place in balancing these duties, so today's report provides some clear and welcome guidance on the best way to walk that tightrope.

"In today's review, Dame Fiona has rightly identified that since the publication of her original report, misinterpretation or fear of releasing patient information inappropriately has occasionally resulted in unnecessary and unhelpful 'clampdowns' on sharing essential data. For both patients and the health service, under-sharing can be as harmful as over-sharing - patients must submit the same details over and over again, wasting their time and that of clinicians, and services can't plan or provide the right level of care if they don't know their users' needs.

On regulation of information governance:

"There is a clear need for the NHS to strike the right balance between sharing and protecting patient information. There is an equally clear need for the government and regulators to get right the mix between safeguards which ensure good information governance and the resources which the health service will need to devote to demonstrating it.

"The NHS Confederation is undertaking a major piece of work to reduce the unsustainable burden of information collection the NHS is subject to, so we particularly welcome Dame Fiona's call for the regulation of information governance to be balanced and proportionate, and to make use of existing means rather than imposing new requirements.

"It is essential that the ongoing discussions in the European Union about revisions to the existing Data Protection Directive regarding data protection allow institutions as unique as the NHS to tread the right balance between maintaining confidentiality and protecting and improving patients' health."


Georgie Agass
020 7799 8637

Francesca Reville
020 7799 8633

Jenny Ousbey


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