UK Department of Health announces review into patient data protection

By Jamie Thompson
02:22 PM

The Department of Health recently announced Dame Fiona Caldicott’s independent review into the protection of patient data. This announcement comes in response to the NHS Future Forum’s recommendation that the balance of patient protection and sharing of patient data needs to be addressed.

The last major review of the security of patient information occurred in 1997. Since then, there have been significant changes in the use and deployment of EHRs.

NHS is also undergoing a transformation in which electronic healthcare will become fundamental to every aspect of patient care. The radical reorganization of the NHS in England is giving local healthcare providers even more responsibility for their own EHRs, and for ensuring they are secure.

“The review is a truly welcome development, especially under the leadership of someone as widely respected as Dame Fiona. It is great to see the NHS giving a high priority to patient privacy, as this is a mission critical issue. This review could lead to a future in which patient data can be shared securely throughout the NHS, and where the reputations of healthcare providers are not under threat from the constant risk of serious breaches,” said Kurt Long, founder and CEO of FairWarning.

“Unless security is treated as the fundamental underpinning of electronic healthcare systems, there is a clear danger that continuing data breaches will damage public confidence, causing patients and NHS professionals to back away from electronic care.”

Clear rules and guidelines are needed on information sharing and privacy in order to help healthcare providers put the right practical measures in place.