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Comment on Caldicott Report: The special importance of sharing data between the NHS and Social Services

Managing director of NDL, Declan Grogan commented: “During his response to the Caldicott report, Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt highlighted the particular challenges encountered when sharing data between social services and the NHS, and he was absolutely right to do so. If sharing data within one organisation (albeit one as disparate and diverse as the NHS) is tricky, sharing data between two or more organisations with such different cultures, is a challenge worthy of special attention. Yet dual users of the NHS and social services, which include dementia sufferers, abused children and drug users among others, are some of the most vulnerable members of society, making it all the more important that data in this area is shared successfully, in an accurate, efficient and timely manner. 

“Since we work with both NHS Trusts and local authorities we are used to hearing the arguments from both perspectives, and objections often boil down to one point – sharing some information is fine, but allowing the ‘other side’ unfettered access to information systems   can be step too far. The answer then is to provide a ‘restricted view’ and the good news is the technology already exists to do this. Just one small example is a pioneering project being carried out between an NHS Trust and a local council where we are helping the two organisations to develop a unified common assessment system which is used when individuals first come to the attention of either of the services. This means that in cases where individuals have dual needs, it will be possible for an employee from just one of the services to carry out the initial assessment and enter the data into a single system. Appropriate data will be automatically filtered into each organisation’s data management system, TPP SystmOne on the NHS side and Liquidlogic for social services. This is a simple practical example of how data can be successfully shared between two organisations, both streamlining the patient experience and saving resources, while also, vitally, respecting patient confidentially. To successfully implement the new culture of data sharing championed by the Caldicott report, we need more many more projects like this, and the good news is there’s no practical or valid technical reason why, with commitment from both sides, can’t be achieved.”