New data strategy for health and care

The strategy called Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data sets out the Secretary of State’s vision for how data will be used to improve the health and care of the population in a ‘safe, trusted and transparent’ way.

The strategy marks the next steps of the discussion about how best to use data for the benefit of patients, service users, and the wider health and care system. It follows the publication of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Bureaucracy Busting mission document in November 2020 and the proposals made in the NHS White Paper, aiming to build on the positive changes seen during the pandemic.

The draft strategy proposes seven commitments:

  • putting patients at the heart of their health and care data, with easy access to their own healthcare records;
  • giving health and care staff easier access to the right information to provide the best possible care through shared records and simplified information governance;
  • enabling the proportionate sharing of data for the purpose of supporting the health and care system;
  • giving adult social care high quality, timely and transparent data so they can make individualised choices to personalise care;
  • modernising data architecture and infrastructure underpinning the health and care system to improve standards, protect data and stay ahead of cyber risk;
  • supporting innovation for the benefit of patients and staff such as empowering patients to test and monitor changes in their vision remotely using an app, and using AI to assess data from care home worker’s reports to predict the likelihood of falls and hospital admissions of patients, enabling appropriate safeguards to be put in place; and
  • building on improvements to speed up access to data during the pandemic, where there is clear benefit for the system as a whole.

There are plans to introduce new legislation as part of the forthcoming Health and Care Bill to enable more effective use of data across the health and care system.

The proposals include:

  • introducing a power for the Secretary of State to mandate standards for how data is collected and stored,
  • making changes to NHS Digital’s legal framework;
  • introducing a power to require data from all registered adult social care providers about services they provide whether funded by local authorities or privately by individuals; and
  • placing a duty on organisations within the health and social care system to share anonymous information (both data that is not identifiable, for example, bed capacity, and de-identified data) that they hold where such sharing would benefit the health and social care system

Further details can be found at Appendix B of the draft strategy.

Have your say by 23 July

The strategy has been published in draft format to enable consultation on the commitments made within it, before publishing a final version of the strategy later in 2021, including a detailed implementation plan. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) are gathering responses to the consultation via an online survey, which will close at 5pm on Friday 23 July. You can have your say here.

The DHSC are keen to hear your views on:

  • whether the commitments and timetable in this strategy are achievable
  • whether there are any barriers they should consider when planning implementation
  • how they can best increase transparency and communicate progress on how data is being used and shared

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