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Caldicott consultation looks to reduce ‘surprises’ in new eighth principle

Care homes have until Thursday 3 September to respond to a National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care (NDG) open consultation on proposals to add an eighth Caldicott Principle and revise the remaining seven.

The new eighth principle reads: Principle 8 – Inform the expectations of patients and service users about how their confidential information is to be used.

This states that a range of steps should be taken to ensure ‘no surprises’ for patients and service users about how their confidential information is to be used – these steps will vary depending on the use. As a minimum, this should include providing relevant and appropriate information – in some cases, greater engagement will be required to promote understanding and acceptance of uses of information. Patients and service users should be given an accessible way to opt out.

Amendments to the existing Caldicott Principles centre around widening the definition of confidential information.

The NDG also proposes use of statutory powers to issue guidance about organisations appointing Caldicott Guardians to uphold the Caldicott Principles.

According to law firm RLB Law, since the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force, courts have developed the significance of the concept of a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ within the law of confidence. It argues that one result of this is to provide an alternative route for the lawful disclosure of confidential patient information, where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. An additional aim of the consultation is to develop a new set of Caldicott Principles and guidance in time to inform decisions and discussions about data sharing after COVID-19.

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