A Caldicott Guardian is a senior person responsible for protecting the confidentiality of patient and service-user information and enabling appropriate information-sharing.
Dr Jules Walton (Deputy Chief Medical Officer) is the Trust's Caldicott Guardian. Acting as the 'conscience' of the Trust, the Guardian actively supports work to enable information sharing where it is appropriate to share, and advises on options for lawful and ethical processing of information.
About the role
Each NHS organisation is mandated to have a Caldicott Guardian. The Guardian plays a key role in ensuring that NHS, Councils with Social Services Responsibilities and partner organisations satisfy the highest practical standards for handling patient identifiable information.
Further information is available from the Caldicott Council.
The Caldicott Principles is a term used to describe how organisations and individuals manage the way information is handled within the health and social care system in England is ‘information governance’. In 1997 the Review of the Uses of Patient-Identifiable Information, chaired by Dame Fiona Caldicott, devised six general principles of information governance (the Caldicott Principles) that could be used by all NHS organisations with access to patient information.
Since then 2 further principles were added “to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between the protection of patient information and the use and sharing of information to improve patient care and to ensure patients are informed about the uses of their information.
The 8 Caldicott Principles (revised in December 2020) are:
Principle 1: Justify the purpose(s) for using confidential information
Every proposed use or transfer of confidential information should be clearly defined, scrutinised and documented, with continuing uses regularly reviewed by an appropriate guardian.
Principle 2: Use confidential information only when it is necessary
Confidential information should not be included unless it is necessary for the specified purpose(s) for which the information is used or accessed. The need to identify individuals should be considered at each stage of satisfying the purpose(s) and alternatives used where possible.
Principle 3: Use the minimum necessary confidential information
Where use of confidential information is considered to be necessary, each item of information must be justified so that only the minimum amount of confidential information is included as necessary for a given function.
Principle 4: Access to confidential information should be on a strict need-to-know basis
Only those who need access to confidential information should have access to it, and then only to the items that they need to see. This may mean introducing access controls or splitting information flows where one flow is used for several purposes.
Principle 5: Everyone with access to confidential information should be aware of their responsibilities
Action should be taken to ensure that all those handling confidential information understand their responsibilities and obligations to respect the confidentiality of patient and service users.
Principle 6: Comply with the law
Every use of confidential information must be lawful. All those handling confidential information are responsible for ensuring that their use of and access to that information complies with legal requirements set out in statute and under the common law.
Principle 7: The duty to share information for individual care is as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality
Health and social care professionals should have the confidence to share confidential information in the best interests of patients and service users within the framework set out by these principles. They should be supported by the policies of their employers, regulators and professional bodies.
Principle 8: Inform patients and service users about how their confidential information is used
A range of steps should be taken to ensure no surprises for patients and service users, so they can have clear expectations about how and why their confidential information is used, and what choices they have about this. These steps will vary depending on the use: as a minimum, this should include providing accessible, relevant and appropriate information - in some cases, greater engagement will be required.