Physios must be confident about their use of NHS data

NHS professionals, including physiotherapists, have a vital need for consistent training and education so they can handle information safely.

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That is one of the key messages from a consultation on proposed new data security standards, aimed at strengthening patient consent about sharing their records in England’s NHS.

Fiona Caldicott, the national data guardian for health and care, spoke about the proposals at the King’s Fund digital health and care congress. The plans are outcomes from her Review of Data Security, Consent and Opt-Outs, published on 6 July.

The review sets out 10 standards for data security based around three themes. First, ensuring staff are equipped to handle data respectfully and safely. Second, preventing data security breaches and responding appropriately to security incidents. Third, ensuring technology is secure and up-to-date.

It identifies a vital need for consistent training and education to equip NHS professionals, including physiotherapists, to handle information safely.

Steve Tolan, the CSP’s head of practice, said: ‘It’s important for members to develop confidence about the use of data, so they can properly determine when information can be shared.

‘But also to support patients to make decisions about how their records could be used to improve outcomes for patients and populations.’

The review found that people trust the NHS to protect information, but this has been eroded by data breaches. Incidents include emails containing sensitive information going to the wrong address, data being shared without consent, or people’s records being misplaced or lost.

George Freeman, the minister for life sciences, responded to the review by launching a consultation on its proposals.

‘If we are to deliver the safest, most efficient healthcare possible for NHS patients, we must make the most of this digital information revolution, moving away from reliance on paper record keeping,’ the minister said.

'It is vital that a full consultation and dialogue with the public and professionals takes place before any implementation of the recommendations can take place.’


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by Gill Hitchcock

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