Dame Fiona Caldicott has been selected as the first statutory National Data Guardian (NDG) for Health and Social Care.

Dame Fiona was appointed national data guardian for health and care in 2014 to ensure the public can trust that health and care information is securely safeguarded and used appropriately.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has now made the position statutory, after government legislation was passed in December 2018.

Dame Fiona said: “The placing of the National Data Guardian role on a statutory footing sends an important signal that there is an independent champion for patients and the public in relation to how health and adult social care data is used.

“I look forward to taking up the role on this new basis and continuing to work alongside others to build public trust that patient data will be used appropriately and effectively.

“This significant development would not have happened without the contributions of many people and organisations for which I am very grateful; the strong support for the role has been heartening to see.”

By making the role statutory means the NDG will be able to issue official guidance about the processing of health and adult social care data.

This means public bodies, such as hospitals, GPs, care homes, planners and commissioners of services, will have to take note of guidance that is relevant to them.

So will organisations such as private companies or charities which are delivering services for the NHS or publicly funded adult social care.

Health Minister, Nicola Blackwood, added: “I am delighted to see the role of the National Data Guardian being placed on a statutory footing.

“Placing the National Data Guardian on a statutory footing strengthens the role as an independent and authoritative voice for the patient on how their data is used in the health and care system. It is right that patients are confident they have a strong champion not only to advise them but also to challenge the system and ensure that confidential information is safeguarded and used appropriately.

“In establishing this role Dame Fiona has firmly rooted the National Data Guardian within the health and care system as an essential building block for building public trust for the use of patient data.”