NHS England’s purpose is to secure high quality care for all, now and for future generations. We believe passionately that one of the best ways to improve services is through a combination of

  • greater transparency in how well different parts of the NHS are providing care; and
  • more participation by citizens, patients and clinicians in the design of NHS services.

Together, these twin pillars of transparency and participation will lead to safer, more equitable, and more compassionate health care for us all.

The tenets of care.data

The tenets of care.data

The importance of data

The only way to determine whether the NHS is achieving its aim of universal, high quality care is through analysing detailed, high quality information about the care being provided to patients. NHS England has therefore embarked on an ambitious programme to upgrade the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of NHS data.

Known as the care.data programme, this initiative will ensure that there is better information available to citizens, patients, clinicians and the people that plan NHS services.

Every patient wants to be confident that they are receiving the highest quality care and the best treatments.  By using data we can identify examples of best practice so that these can be rolled out across the country, and we can identify examples of substandard care, so that we can take swift action to improve services. The quality of care we receive should not be dependent on where we live or the hospital we attend.  Data will be used to expose any unwarranted variations in care to ensure equity of care; a high quality service no matter who I am or where I live.

By presenting this information in meaningful ways, we can empower citizens to play a far more active role in the design and scrutiny of their local health and care services. Patients will be able to compare the quality of care provided by different organisations, teams, and individual clinicians.  Eventually, patients will be able to view, share, discuss, and analyse data about the care they themselves received – thereby improving their understanding of their care and giving them greater confidence in their local health and social care services.

Protecting Confidentiality

In order to obtain a more rounded picture of the care that patients receive from different parts of the NHS, we link together their data using identifiers such as the NHS number and date of birth but not name and address. This process is largely automated with strict security controls in place.  Once the data have been linked, we remove the identifiers before making the information available to those planning NHS services or researchers.  Identifiable data can only be made available in limited circumstances where the law allows it – for example if there is special approval for research or there is a civil emergency.   Patients have a choice and can object by speaking to their GP if they have concerns.

When we or our family members are ill, we should be confident that we are receiving the highest quality care.  The NHS wants to ensure that we are delivering a first class health and social care service to everyone. To do so, we need high quality information about the care being provided across the country.

This is an opportunity for us all to contribute to a better healthcare service.

If you would like more information on the work that is being done on care.data please click here

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