NHS England has set up a new information governance network in a further sign that big changes are coming for the IG Toolkit.

In a recent blog, NHS England chief data officer Geraint Lewis said “there is a widespread view that [information governance] in England has become too Byzantine in its complexity and that, in practice, it is too risk averse and too inflexible to meet the modern needs of patients and clinicians”.

Lewis said overcoming these barriers was particularly important as the NHS moved to models of care that required greater sharing of patient information to work effectively.

The network would aim to simplify IG, “challenge the myths” and hold national bodies to account when their IG requirements were “outdated and unwieldy”, he said. Much of its work would involve improving guidance and sharing best practice.

The IG Toolkit is essentially an online tool that allows health and social care organisation to assess themselves against government standards.

Lewis’ comments come after NHS Digital chief operating officer Rob Shaw told an audience at EHI Live 2016 in Birmingham last week, that the organisation was trying to “scrap” the IG toolkit in its current form.

“It [IG Toolkit] doesn’t give you anything. We are looking to change that. We are looking to make it more meaningful, looking to make it light-touch.”

NHS Digital later clarified its position in a statement on its website, stating that the toolkit would not be scrapped and organisations were still expected to adhere to it.

“There is a programme of work underway to improve the IGT, to increase its relevance for senior managers, its accessibility for small organisations and its focus on the new data security standards recommended by the national data guardian.”

Those recommendations were included in national data guardian Dame Fiona Caldicott’s third review into data security, made public in July. That review also criticises the IG toolkits as a “tick-box exercise” and states that it requires simplification to “support rather inhibit data sharing”.

Lewis said the IG network would be backed by the Information Governance Alliance, and would have an initial focus on assisting vanguards and integrated care pioneers, with representatives from each of these on the network.

It will be hosted on the FutureNHS Collaborations platform, that will include forums, webinars and other resources on information governance.