NHS board will oversee care records management

The Department of Health has announced the membership of a new National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care (NIGB) to ensure the confidentiality, security and ethical use of electronic care records.

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The Department of Health has announced the membership of a new National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care (NIGB) to ensure the confidentiality, security and ethical use of electronic care records.

The development of a national care records service for the NHS is the central part of the health service’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT), but it has prompted concern – especially from doctors – about how patients’ records will be held and used. Concerns about confidentiality are likely to grow as work progresses to allow NHS records to be shared with thousands more staff in local authority social services departments.

The National Information Governance Board

Edward Briffa, head of learning at BMJ Publishing

Sir Rodney Brooke, chair of the General Social Care Council

Retired chief constable Della Cannings

Wayne Cleghorn, a senior legal officer at South Gloucestershire council

Ian Hayes, a consultant and a trustee of the Terence Higgins Trust

Penny Hill, information strategy manager at Warwickshire county council

Dr Nadeem Khan. programme lead for retinal screening services at Sutton and Merton primary care trust

Retired solicitor and intellectual property consultant Hilary Newiss

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, of Wimbledon Synagogue, south London

Dr Michael Wilks, senior forensic medical examiner for the Metropolitan Police

Last week, NHS IT agency Connecting for Health admitted it has no idea how many of nearly 400,000 smartcards giving healthcare staff access to patient records have been lost or stolen.

The establishment of the NIGB, with lay members selected by the independent Appointments Commission and representatives of stakeholder groups, follows a review of information governance by Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.

Cayton’s review identified a “fragmentation” information governance policy and practice, with a lack of effective monitoring and consistent reporting.

“There is considerable pressure to obtain access to data on the NHS Care Records Service from other government departments, public services such as the police and immigration services, and researchers,” Cayton’s report warned.

“Clear ethical values and standard procedures consistently applied are essential if the right uses of the NHS Care Records Service are to be secured and maintained.”

Cayton recommended the establishment of the NIGB, which he will chair. The board’s remit includes promoting consistent standards for information governance across health and social care, arbitrating on the interpretation and application of information governance policy and giving advice at national level. The NIGB will report annually to the health secretary.

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