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Caldicott review calls for greater sharing of patient information

By News team

Relevant health data should be shared among all of the registered healthcare professionals directly involved in a patient’s care, a Government-commissioned information governance (IG) review has concluded.

Dame Fiona Caldicott was tasked last year with leading the review (PJ 2012;288:270), which explored how to strike the balance between sharing and protecting confidential patient information in the NHS. The resultant report, published last week (26 April 2013), sets out 26 recommendations for improving the sharing of patient information, ensuring this is done securely and taking action when mistakes are made (see Panel).

In a foreword, Dame Fiona says: “The Future Forum’s key recommendation relating to IG [in its report last January (PJ 2012;288:26)] stated that data sharing is vital for patient safety, quality and integrated care. We endorse this wholeheartedly, and have been struck by the loss of confidence of many clinicians … about when it is safe to share information and the safeguards that are required.”

There is an urgent and ongoing need for education and training in this area, she warns. “Everyone working in the health and social care system should see IG as part of their responsibility. Unfortunately that is not currently the case.”

Heidi Wright, practice and policy lead for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England, said the review has various implications for the pharmacy profession. “Due to unfounded legal fears and procedural issues, [appropriate sharing of information] does not always happen in healthcare at the current time, even when … in the patient’s best interest,” she said.

Greater sharing of information between NHS service providers, as called for in the report, would benefit pharmacy services, said Ms Wright. “There are other potential benefits for pharmacy in the implementation of this report, concerning availability of information for service commissioning and professional education on IG.

“The Society’s information management and technology strategy group will be reviewing this report to see where it supports our professional strategy, and [to drive] forward its implementation,” she said.

Speaking at the Electronic Patient Records Conference, held in London on the day of the report’s publication, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the effective sharing of patient information has enormous potential to improve patient care. But he stressed that patients who do not want their data recorded or shared will have this wish respected.

He has asked Dame Fiona to chair an independent panel to oversee implementation of the review’s recommendations, and advise on IG issues. A full Government response to the report will be made in the summer.

Although the review considered issues in England, many of the findings should prove useful across the UK, Dame Fiona says.

Caldicott review recommendations

Recommendations from the review, “Information: to share or not to share?”, include that:

  1. Direct patient care should be provided by multidisciplinary teams comprising both health and social care staff
  2. Relevant confidential patient data should be shared among the registered and regulated health and social care professionals who “have a legitimate relationship with” the patient
  3. Care providers should audit their services against National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical guideline 138, “Patient experience in adult NHS services”, particularly the information sharing advice
  4. When confidentiality of personal data is breached, the individual or organisation legally responsible for the data must fully explain and apologise to the patient, and take remedial action
  5. Professional regulators must agree upon, and publish, the conditions under which registrants can rely on implied consent for sharing patient data 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11120724

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