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Data transparency vital for public trust

Sustaining public trust in health data will need a clear focus on transparency, effectiveness and security, according to chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), Kingsley Manning.

Speaking at the National Health and IT Conference and Exhibition 2014, he said the existing arrangements are ‘inadequate and no longer fit for purpose’ and that ‘changes will happen in the coming months’.

“After becoming HSCIC chair nine months ago, I was shocked by the pace and the scale of the developing security risk,” Manning said.

“Whilst I had been concerned with the lost disc or the stolen laptop, I had failed to appreciate the extent of the risk now posed, whether it's by highly organised, criminal hackers, extremely proficient and motivated activists, or foreign states or ideologically motivated interlopers.”

“Therefore in a few weeks I will be announcing a major strengthening of both the security and IG frameworks for the whole health and social care system,” Manning explains.

“Whilst we can never guarantee the absolute security of data we must give the public a guarantee that we, as a system, have taken all reasonable steps to protect and keep safe their data. We have no defence if we are found not to be compliant.”

HSCIC will be extending its work on burden reduction, working to use the investment available through the Tech Fund in the coming months, to support data effectiveness and productivity across all the healthcare sectors.

Manning claimed that one of the major areas of controversy over the last few weeks has been the sale of health data to commercial organisations.

The HSCIC has revealed that it will be publishing the details of all the data releases it has made since it was formed in early April. It is also undertaking a review of all the data releases made by the NHS Information Centre, and this will be published in the early summer.

In order to strengthen the public participation, it will be establishing a joint professional/public advisory council in 2014, with an independent chair.