Facing up to the personal data dilemma

A chance to provide your perspective on how new data regulations could affect plans for digital transformation

Public authorities are facing a potentially difficult set of circumstances in how they handle personal data in future years.

Getting this right will be crucial to how they manage their transformation programmes and deliver better, more cost-effective services in the face of a continuing squeeze on financial resources.

The crux of the problem lies in two forthcoming regulations that threaten to muddy the waters around what is, and what is not, permissible.

One is the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), designed to strengthen the assurance to individuals that organisations will handle their personal data with sufficient care, emphasising the principle of consent for it to be shared with other bodies. The Government has indicated that, whatever happens with Brexit, the UK will go along with the terms of the GDPR when it comes into force in the spring of 2018.

But another act is in the parliamentary pipeline – the Digital Economy Bill – which has prompted criticisms that it gives government too much control over personal data, allowing for it to be shared without the subject’s consent.

The apparent tension between the two regulations could create a confused situation and undermine the recent growth in confidence around data sharing.

Given the consensus that organisations need to share at least some personal data to deliver better, more cost-effective services, this could throw a spoke in the transformation plans of authorities in all parts of the public sector.

One of the areas it could affect is the trend towards the integration of health and social care. Organisations in both sectors need to collaborate more effectively to make savings and shift patient care from the hospital to the community, and this requires the sharing of data on individuals which is intrinsically sensitive. They need to be sure of the relevant law to do this effectively, and if the law is not clear it makes it more difficult to build a successful collaboration.

Providers of other services could face a similar dilemma, and it is time to assess the perspectives on the issue.

UKAuthority is running a survey with software and systems provider Civica to understand how public sector officials see the situation. Are you confident you can meet the requirements of both sets of regulations? Where do you see the advantages of each? What are the blockers to the implementation of integrated care?

Building a picture of how organisations regard these issues is a step towards the sharing of solutions and best practice. You can contribute, and maybe clarify your own thoughts, by taking part in the survey. It requires just a few minutes of your time.

Just click this link to take part