The National Information Governance Board has launched its Social Care Record Guarantee, setting out patients’ rights on confidentiality and consent for both paper and electronic records.

The Guarantee is intended to complement the Care Record Guarantee used by the health service since 2005. It has been devised by the NIGB, an independent statutory body which advises the DH on patient and client confidentiality issues.

Harry Cayton, chair of the NIGB, and David Behan, director general of social care, have written to all local authorities in England outlining their responsibilities towards client confidentiality as set out in the Guarantee.

The letter asks local authorities to adopt the Guarantee, but points out that it puts no new requirements on local authorities.

Instead, it sets out how the information that people provide to social care is used and what control they can have over this, based on current law, best practice and professional guidelines.

Cayton, said: “We entrust our most sensitive personal information to those who provide us with social and health care. We rely on them to keep it confidential and to seek our consent to share it but it is important that we know what the ‘rules’ are.”

Cayton said the Guarantee would be reviewed at least annually by the NIGB to ensure that it continues to reflect best practice, professional guidelines and the law.

Behan said the purpose of the Guarantee was to explain as simply as possible how local authorities should be handling personal information.

He added: “I ask every director of social care to ensure that their organisations are upholding the commitments in the Guarantee and to make people who use services aware of it.”

Phil Hope, minister for care services, added: “People often use both health and social care services and the Guarantees that are now in place provide additional reassurance that their information will be secure and only used for proper purposes.”