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Following an independent review into data releases made by the organisation that came before us: the NHS Information Centre (NHS IC), our board has set out a series of steps to guarantee greater openness and reassurance to the public, stricter controls over data use and better clarity for data users.
These steps include:
- Patients and public representatives will be part of a new membership of the HSCIC's data oversight committee, the Data Access Advisory Group (DAAG).
- All data agreements will be re-issued, to ensure activity is centrally logged, monitored and audited, resulting in a clear and transparent process. Decisions will be documented and published.
- A new, strengthened audit function will monitor adherence to data sharing agreements and halt the flow of data if there are any concerns exposed.
- A programme of communication to the public and patients will help clarify an individual's right to object to their data flowing to or from the HSCIC.
The review, led by Sir Nick Partridge and carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), was published on 17 June 2014. It concluded there were significant administrative lapses in recording the release of data at the NHS IC.
Since that time, NHS Digital has worked with system partners and other interested parties to ensure that the recommendations made in the review into data releases were implemented fully; the protection of citizens' data is NHS Digital's number one strategic objective. An example of this commitment to continuing improvement, data oversight was strengthened further with the launch of the Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data (IGARD) which replaced DAAG 1st February 2017.