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Call for more Caldicott Guardians in health and social care

31/08/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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More organisations with roles in health and social care will be expected to appoint Caldicott Guardians, according to new guidance from National Data Guardian Nicola Byrne.

It says Guardians – responsible for data governance under the Caldicott Principles in their organisations – should be appointed in all bodies that provide services as part of the publicly funded health service, adult social care or adult carer support, and which process confidential information on patients and service users.

Previously the recommendation has only applied to NHS trusts and local authorities with responsibilities for social service, although other organisations – such as care homes, hospices, prison healthcare teams and charities – have followed suit.

The change derives from a consultation last year on revising and expanding the principles.

Differences

The guidance document says there are currently over 22,000 Caldicott Guardians in the UK, with the way they operate differing according to their organisational environments. It acknowledges that many will have to work with limited infrastructure and support, and says the organisations will need to consider whether it should be a full time role or combined with other duties.

It adds that organisations that decide against appointing a Guardian should document the reasons why, and if they make an appointment should consider having a deputy as well.

The document also covers the roles and responsibilities involved, along with details of the competencies needed, the relationships with other organisations roles, staff, patients and service users, and issues around accountability.

Nicola Byrne

Byrne (pictured) commented: Caldicott Guardians are central to ensuring that confidentiality is protected and that wise decisions are made about the information their organisations hold.

“For this reason, introducing Caldicott Guardians into more settings is an important step in the right direction when it comes to maintaining people’s trust in a confidential health and social care system.

“We are very pleased to be sharing this guidance today and will be working with partners and colleagues over the coming weeks to ensure that those who need to take action are aware of what is required of them.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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