The King's Fund responds to the publication of the Information Strategy for Health and Social Care

Responding to the publication of the Information Strategy for Health and Social Care, Dr Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said:

‘The Information Strategy sets out a bold and ambitious plan for placing more information in the hands of patients and making more use of data to improve patient care. While we welcome the ambition and direction of the strategy, at a time of unprecedented financial constraint, some commissioners and providers will find it challenging to invest in developing information systems rather than frontline services. We need to be realistic about what is achievable in the short to medium term.’

‘There are huge benefits to be gained from putting information in the hands of patients but this has often encountered professional resistance in the past. Data governance issues should not be used as an excuse for inaction – the default position should be for data to be accessible to patients unless there are clear reasons not to make it available.’

‘The goal of linking health and social care records is the right one and is vital for facilitating integrated care to meet the needs of older people and those with chronic conditions. However, while there are some outstanding examples of linking records across services to draw on, implementing this on a national scale raises technical and financial challenges and much will depend on the pace and scale of local take up.’

‘We also welcome the priority given to setting data standards – much will depend on the rigour with which this is undertaken by the NHS Commissioning Board. It is crucial that compliance with these standards is monitored, but the Care Quality Commission (CQC) may not be best placed to take this on in full given the significant challenges it already faces. There may be a role for the Information Centre here, with the CQC using its leverage where compliance appears weak.’

Notes to editors: 

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2632 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146 035).