Social Care Record Guarantee ‘will help data sharing with NHS’

Information sharing between social services and the NHS in England should become easier under a new care record “guarantee” for users due to be approved next week, it has been claimed.

The Social Care Record Guarantee will establish standards for what should be included within children’s and adults’ social care records, and how they should be used and shared by local authorities in England. It is designed to complement and mirror the existing NHS Care Record Guarantee, which performs the same role in health. 

The National Information Governance Board (NIGB) for Health and Social Care, the new data management watchdog for the two sectors, is expected to approve the standards at its 24 September meeting. The guarantee will then need to be adopted by each English top-tier council.

Assurance for users and professionals

NIGB chair Harry Cayton – formerly the Department of Health’s patient tsar – told last week’s meeting of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services executive council that the twin guarantees would provide an assurance for professionals and service users about sharing data.

He said: “We will be able to say to people, ‘if your health service is using the NHS Care Record Guarantee and the local authority is signed up to the Social Care Record Guarantee you are safe to share data across the two’.”

Cayton said service users were far more likely to complain about data not being shared between agencies than information about them being passed between professionals. 

But he added: “What they don’t want is unsafe, insecure data sharing.”

Information sharing conditions

A draft of the guarantee, circulated at the NIGB’s June meeting, included a promise that information would only be shared with users’ consent, when required by law, for instance under mental health legislation, or when councils had a “good reason to believe” not doing so would put a third party at risk.

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, the NIGB will gain statutory powers in December this year to monitor data handling and security in NHS trusts and council adult social care departments.

Cayton said it would have the power to make unsolicited recommendations to trusts and councils who it believed were in breach of standards and publicly report on how they have responded to recommendations.

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