National Data Guardian

On 13 November 2014 the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, and the National Information Board appointed Dame Fiona Caldicott to a new role as National Data Guardian for health and care. The National Data Guardian will act as the patients’ champion on security of personal medical information.

These extra legislative safeguards mark a significant step forward for safe and confidential information sharing between health and care organisations.

Dame Fiona already chairs the Independent Information Governance Oversight Panel, which provides advice to the government on healthcare information sharing, but this appointment strengthens her powers.

Dame Fiona will be able to intervene if she is concerned by how an organisation is sharing data and she will be able to refer concerns directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to investigate and sanction where necessary.

The National Data Guardian does not have a legal footing at present but the Secretary of State intends to implement legislation at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, the ICO, the CQC and the Secretary of State have agreed to sanction organisations that do not comply with Dame Fiona’s recommendations before the legislation is passed so patients will benefit immediately from the security of a much tougher and more transparent regime.

Following her appointment Dame Fiona said:

Everyone should feel confident that their healthcare information is shared safely.

As the first National Data Guardian I am committed to holding the health and social care system to account and acting on behalf of patients and care users.