Government backs Freeman and Patients4Data campaign and Bill for integrated patient records

Following the Private Members’ Ballot on Thursday, I am delighted to announce that Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Staffordshire, has decided to adopt my Bill. This Bill aims to encourage data sharing in the interests of patients and people who use health and adult social care to support safer, more effective and integrated care.
Background: the problem?
  • Currently patients across the NHS and care sector cannot be sure that their medical records are being shared appropriately between the professionals responsible for their care – especially when they move between organisations along their care pathway.
  • Taking steps to ensure a patient’s medical history is readily available when they move from GP to hospital to community care is an obvious step to improve the safety of patient care, the quality of patient experience, to boost public confidence in the NHS and to help better plan and integrate these services around the people who use them.
  • Ensuring a reliable and seamless transfer of information is all the more vital when the patient is a vulnerable older person with dementia and many complex needs, for whom large institutions may be difficult to navigate.
  • There is no requirement at the moment for this data to be linked across the patient pathway. Indeed, the lack of patient records across the care pathway was a major issue in the Winterbourne View care, and a key part of the drive for accountability and transparency following the Francis Report.
What does the Bill aim to do?
The Bill introduces two new statutory duties:
  1. A requirement on all suppliers of services (public, private and voluntary) to use the NHS identifier number
  2. A new duty on all organisations to share information in support of people’s direct care in an appropriate, lawful and secure manner
Duty 1 - Use of consistent identifiers across health and care organisations
  • Using a consistent identifier will ensure that all records relating to a patient can be identified as such and linked.
  • Use of the NHS number across health and social care is a long-standing Department of Health priority. The ambition that “all of our health and adult social care data should, wherever it is held, use the NHS number as the default patient identifier by 2015”, was set out in the Department’s 2012 Information Strategy.
Duty 2 - Sharing information in support of people’s direct care in an appropriate, lawful and secure manner
  • Sharing information in support of people’s direct care will help ensure that their care is safe and effective. However, the sharing of data must be in the interests of that person’s care and treatment.
  • This duty will cover all information collected during an episode of treatment or care in a person’s health and care records. This will cover information collected in GPs’ surgeries, hospitals, care homes, ambulance attendances etc.
  • There is already a very strong legal framework to protect the confidential data held within people’s health and care records, including the current maximum £500,000 monetary penalty that may be imposed under the Data Protection Act for misuse of data.
Why is the Bill important?
I believe the Bill represents a potential breakthrough moment in terms of making sure we get integrated data within the health system that benefits all patients. This is important if you care about:
  • Better integration of primary, secondary and community care
  • Putting patients first
  • Harnessing health records to drive up best practice and highlight worst practice
  • Use of health data for research into new medicines
How can I support the Bill?
  • Tweet out your support using hashtag #PatientDataBill
  • Blog about your support for the Bill




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