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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Part of NHS Digital annual report and accounts 2021-22

Privacy, Transparency, Ethics and Legal

Current Chapter

Current chapter – Privacy, Transparency, Ethics and Legal

What we did in 2021-22

The role of the Privacy, Transparency, Ethics and Legal function is to help NHS Digital drive innovation and improve lives through the use of data and technology, while respecting confidentiality, minimising privacy risks and ensuring we explain to the public in a clear and understandable way how we use their data safely and appropriately.

The team supports and influences the development of national policy on data, information governance and legislative matters, working in close collaboration with stakeholders at a national level. As active participants in the cross-sector Health and Care Information Governance Panel and its working group, we ensure the standardisation and provision of consistent guidance to support health and care organisations in meeting information governance best practice.

In October 2021, the Commercial Legal team moved into the directorate, working closely with the Information Law team to deliver co-ordinated legal advice to programmes and directorates. During 2022, the NHS Digital COVID-19 Public Inquiry Response team was established as part of the sub-directorate and is working to ensure NHS Digital prepares appropriately for the COVID-19 Inquiry.

The function supported and advised on all of the programmes that NHS Digital delivered to support the COVID-19 response and recovery. We also worked with, and supported, other organisations involved in the system-wide response, including NHS England on the vaccination programme and the UK Health Security Agency in relation to COVID-19 testing. We have also continued to proactively engage with the National Data Guardian and the Information Commissioner’s Office on key projects.

Other significant delivery achievements included supporting:
  • the safe transfer of the National Disease Registration Service from Public Health England to NHS Digital

  • the introduction and delivery of the COVID-19 Medications Service to provide antiviral treatment to the most vulnerable people who tested positive for COVID-19

  • the continued delivery of the Shielded Patient List, including the management of the ending of the shielding policy

  • the introduction and development of the COVID Pass through the NHS App

  • the development and implementation of a range of new directions and statutory requests for the collection and analysis of data to support ambulance services, online and video consultations, the Pelvic Floor Registry and bookings and referrals

  • the development and implementation of directions to support the Pilot NHS DigiTrials Recruitment Support Services

  • the improvement of information governance templates and tools including developing a new Data Protection Impact Assessment template to improve privacy risk assessments in the development of our products and services

  • the NHS App team and Patient Knows Best (PKB), a health record provider, on the data protection aspects of onboarding PKB services onto the NHS App

  • the development of a global data transfer assessment procedure for NHS Digital to use in relation to assessing the risks of processing personal data which takes place outside of the UK

  • the development of the NHS Digital COVID-19 Trusted Research Environment

Last edited: 17 October 2022 2:41 pm