Information governance is about how we manage and share information appropriately.
The health and social care system faces significant pressures due to the COVID-19 outbreak and, in the current circumstances, it could be more harmful not to share health and care information than to share it. The Information Commissioner has confirmed that she cannot envisage a situation where she would take action against a health and care professional clearly trying to deliver care. You can read the statement from the Information Commissioner's Office, alongside their Q&A resource. Health regulators have also published a joint statement.
We are all responsible for looking after personal information and the important thing, as always, is to consider what type of information we are sharing and with whom. During this period, where clinical need demands it, we may need to work in different ways from usual. Our focus should be on what information we need share and who we share it with, rather than how we share it. We should always limit the use of personal or confidential patient/service user information to the minimum required to meet the specific purpose. Use approved processes, systems and applications where it is effective to do so.
This advice has been developed by the NHS Wales Information Governance Management Advisory Group and is endorsed by the Information Commissioner’s Office and Welsh Government. It sets out some of the tools that can be used to support individual care, share information and communicate with colleagues during this exceptional time. Appendix A provides some further practical tips.
You can find all the latest guidance for NHS Wales in the Information Governance Statement.