The Health and Social Care Information Centre will establish a data security programme across health and social care.

The centre was asked by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in April to ensure that patient data is kept and treated securely across the health and social care system.

In a letter to Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, Hunt says he would like the centre to develop plans to ensure that “those entrusted with confidential data” across all care settings and commissioning organisations are doing all they can to protect patient data and to test the extent to which procedures are being adhered to.

The HSCIC has set out a series of proposals to ensure that health and social care professionals and organisations understand their responsibilities and ensure that the performance of those responsibilities is transparent and “subject to both public and independent scrutiny.”

In a letter responding to Hunt’s request, the HSCIC sets out five areas the proposals will cover.

These include strengthening compliance through requiring certification that organisations are meeting information governance requirements and working with commissioners and regulators such as the CQC include governance in the inspection regime.

The proposals also include “providing an approved framework of suppliers of services such as penetration testing, security audits, physical security and training,” and putting in place an independent audit programme and national security strategy.

The strategy will recognise that many of the current arrangements in place today. which underpin existing national and local information systems, have been “overtaken by technical advances and in some cases both inhibit the delivery of good care and contribute little to data security.”

“This will require embedding appropriate security arrangements in the design, specification and procurement of all national and local information systems.”

A spokesperson from the HSCIC told EHI: “We are finalising the full detail of next steps and will be able to announce further detail very soon.

“This is likely to involve a procurement process to recruit specialist providers and a base lining exercise involving a number of organisations across the health and social care sector.

The HSCIC will publish its first report on the programme in March 2015.