The Caldicott2 review of information governance in the NHS recommends a new duty to share information when it is in the interest of the patient.
‘Information: to share or not to share’ will be launched on 17 April alongside health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s response to the recommendations.
It details how the NHS should share patient information while also protecting patient confidentiality as it moves towards a paperless future.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum this week, Dame Fiona Caldicott – who who led the review – said that education and information sharing were key to providing safe care for patients.
“We’ve come as far as to suggest a new Caldicott principle, which is that information should be shared when that is in the patient interest,” she said.
“Some professionals have become over occupied with concerns about the security of information to the point where they are not confident about how to share it.
“They have lost the sense of confidence that they are putting the patient first, and are able to make judgements on information being shared, and with whom, and when it cannot be shared.”
She added: “It’s certainly true that not all provider organisations have these issues represented at board level, which I think can be a very important reminder of the responsibilities that an organisation has in relation to information governance.”
Dame Fiona said that some organisations were trying to share patient information, but that management sometimes acted as a barrier.
“We certainly heard about agreements between health and social care organisations which laid the basis for information sharing, but then it didn’t happen because someone at managerial level said ‘no you can’t do that, it’s too dangerous’, “ she said.
The Caldicott2 review was set up in response to a recommendation in a 2011 NHS Future Forum report looking at the government’s plans to reorganise and reform the health service.
Dame Fiona said that increased use of technology had led to increasing concerns about the security of information and that many patients worried about breaches of confidentiality.
In her report to the health secretary, Dame Fiona underlined the importance of education for both the public and health professionals to help them understand what information sharing means.
“My request for better education is really important and we have a commitment from the professional bodies that we should attempt to have much better agreement about the language we use in this area to talk about data and information sharing and identification,” she said.