Councils urged to adopt NHS information governance assessment toolkit to aid health and social care collaboration

Written by Colin Marrs on 1 March 2016 in News

Local authorities should adopt the NHS assessment tool for information governance in order to ease collaboration with health bodies, according to Socitm.

The representative body for local government ICT professionals said councils need to ensure their information governance matches the levels adopted over the past decade in the health sector.

In November, chancellor George Osborne announced that every part of the country will be required to produce a plan for integration between social care and the NHS by 2017, to be implemented by 2020.

A statement from Socitm said councils “need to demonstrate that staff know how to safeguard information, how to share data legally and sensitively, and understand when it is relevant to keep data it locked away behind encryption, and when it is not”.

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The body says local authorities should adopt the IG Toolkit, which allows NHS bodies to assess themselves against information governance standards.

It also said councils need to take a single, standard approach to the issue across all departments.

“As well as being more efficient, such an approach engenders trust by health organisations of the council as whole, rather than having to rely on individuals within that organization,” it said.

In a briefing released this week, Socitm describes three practical tools which it says are already helping build trust around data sharing between health bodies and local authorities:

  • The IG Toolkit model for care homes: A simplified model of assessment allowing GPS to use teleconferencing over the Public Services Network (PSN) to discuss treatment with local care homes;
  • The Caldicott 25 module: Good practice guidance for data users social care data;
  • PSN and IG Toolkit equivalency: An exercise which recently took place between Cabinet Office, councils and HSCIC to match new PSN compliance regime to the current version of IG Toolkit.

Socitm said that further work remains to be done within the IG Toolkit to provide cyber security information and support to health and care sectors.

It called for a review of the toolkit for large, complex organisations, including local government “so that it can become an enabling vehicle to support information sharing across the care system”, along with better training.

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