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As part of measures to counter the spread of Coronavirus, NHS Digital has been asked by the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care and NHS England to:
- collect and analyse data to
help doctors, nurses and other health professionals to understand the illness more,
identify patients with Coronavirus or those who are vulnerable to the disease,
understand more about how the health service is responding to the threat, and
provide services that will make it easier for NHS and social care staff to do their jobs and services to patients, including advice and information on Coronavirus.
NHS Digital is the national safe haven for patient data and already collects, analyses and securely disseminates health and social care data, including patient information where it is lawful and appropriate to do so. It also operates a number of national services including the NHS.UK website, the NHS App and 111 online, which are at the heart of the NHS response to the Coronanvirus.
The legal Directions from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and NHS England given today use existing powers to make it possible for new services to be delivered and data to be used more efficiently to help in the response to the outbreak.
The Secretary of State for Health has also issued a notice under the 'Control of Patient Information' regulations (COPI)1 authorising NHS Digital to disseminate information to approved organisations in order to help them to effectively tackle the pandemic.
Dr Jem Rashbass, Executive Director of Master Registries and Data at NHS Digital said:
“This is a rapidly moving situation and data is key to helping us understand how best to protect individuals at risk, know what is happening to patients and ensure that the NHS under pressure can deliver effectively. We are facing one of the most significant challenges in modern times and information about the virus, and people’s experience of it, is key to the research in pursuit of a vaccine or to gain new insights about the disease.
“NHS Digital will work closely with trusted partners to ensure that data is collected, analysed and disseminated in a way which best supports the whole system.”
Notes for editors
Regulation 3(4) of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002
NHS Digital is directed to operate the Covid-19 Public Health Information Systems and undertake system delivery functions on behalf of the Secretary of State and NHS England in order to support the health and social care response to Conoravirus until March 2022, unless revoked earlier. The Directions will be reviewed every six months. The COPI Notice will expire at the end of September 2020 unless extended or renewed.
NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2018/19 financial year, NHS Digital published 265 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.