Providers urged to check data protection

June 8, 2022

Adult social care providers in England are being urged to check their data protection policies by 30 June 2022.

All care services across England should check how they store and share information as part of a national and local programme – Better Security, Better Care – to improve data protection and cyber security within the adult social care sector, according to Digital Social Care, who manage the programme.

The Better Security, Better Care programme supports providers to use Digital Social Care's Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) to assess their current policies, procedures and practices on data management and cyber security, and to share the level they reach on the Toolkit with others.

The programme is also reminding services that the DSPT needs to be completed every year. The deadline for 2021/22 is 30 June 2022.

Having an up-to-date DSPT is required under NHS contracts, and is increasingly being added to local authority contracts, reports Digital Social Care. The DSPT also opens up access to secure email with the health service via NHSmail, and it is a pre-requisite for accessing NHS shared records systems such as GP Connect or proxy medication ordering, Digital Social Care continues.

The Better Security, Better Care programme aims to offer advice to care homes, home care agencies, supported living and other care services for adults on how to check their current data protection policies. This includes both national and local support which is available from 28 Better Security, Better Care local arrangements partners across England.

Commenting on why providers are being urged to check their data protection policies, Michelle Corrigan, Programme Director at Better Security, Better Care, said, 'Every care provider uses and shares information about the people they support, their staff, visitors and funders. Whether it’s paper or digital records, we need to protect that information and only share it with those who genuinely need access. It’s the law, and frankly it’s a safeguarding responsibility.

'Three times as many care services are using the DSPT now compared to a year ago. Nursing homes are most likely to have completed their toolkit, whereas smaller services are least likely to use it. They rarely have in-house data experts and that is where we can help. We urge all providers – whatever their size or service type – to come forward for our free, expert support.

'Things change very quickly. Staff turnover, new IT systems, or a change in services can all impact on care services’ practices. Which is why the DSPT must be published every year. If a provider has completed it in the past, they can just review, update and re-publish. They don’t have to start from scratch. But if they don’t re-publish, they can’t use an out-of-date DSPT as evidence of their current arrangements.'

Find out more about why providers are being urged to check their data protection policies by visiting the Digital Social Care website.

In other news, Carers UK and the six other charities involved with Carers Week 2022 are calling on Government this week to outline additional support for carers.

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