07 November, 2017
A review that started in January 2015 and concluded in 2016 to assess the appropriateness, effectiveness and operational efficiency of tracing services carried out by NHS Digital has today (7 November) been published.
The Review affirmed that tracing requests through the National Back Office deliver significant value to the NHS, public sector and third-sector organisations, including law enforcement agencies and members of the public.
It clarified that there is an appropriate legal basis for all traces and that the information that is shared is limited wholly to non-clinical, personal demographic data, which, for clarity, is described as 'administrative data'.
Tracing service staff respond to sanctioned tracing requests from a range of agencies and for a range of purposes, including: attempts to locate individuals who have been identified as potential bone marrow donors; to aid charities supporting people wanting to re-establish contact with lost family members; and to locate individuals sought in relation to criminal proceedings and immigration enforcement.
The Review was commissioned by the NHS Digital Board. It examined processes, controls and governance arrangements. It identified and assessed the legal basis for the disclosure of data, and summarises engagement with service users and stakeholders to understand their needs and concerns.
A series of recommendations for changes and improvements were outlined in the main Review Findings report alongside updates on changes that have already been made. The accompanying Technical Annex offers further in-depth detail on individual services.
Sarah Wilkinson, Chief Executive of NHS Digital, welcomes the publication of the Review:
"The National Back Office Tracing Service Review was a report commissioned in 2015 to provide a detailed look at our tracing functions and the legal basis for providing those services.
"Numerous parties have requested that this document be made available in full in the public domain. I feel it is useful and appropriate to comply with this request to ensure complete transparency"