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New Anonymisation Standard for the publication of health and social care data becomes effective on 30 April 2013

April 29, 2013

The last day of April is the first day of a new Anonymisation Standard that applies to all organisations who publish information about publicly-commissioned health and social care activity and outcomes.

Says Clare Sanderson, Solution Design Standards and Assurance Director, Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC):

"The Government's open data agenda is putting more data into the public domain, allowing the public to find out more than ever about the performance of public bodies. That's a great benefit to everyone but we must ensure that we don't publish information that could identify individuals.

The new Anonymisation Standard (devised by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and approved by the Information Standards Board), provides a standard approach and a set of standard tools to anonymise information will be used to ensure that, as far as it is reasonably practicable, information published does not identify individuals. It will help organisations meet some of the challenges set out in Dame Fiona Caldicott's report published on Friday"

The Anonymisation Standard has been developed and tested in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and is consistent with the ICO's recently-published Anonymisation Code of Practice. The Standardis embedded within the statutory Code of Practice of the Management of Confidential Information, due to be published this year in accordance with the Health and Social Care Act (2012).

The Department of Health is the Sponsor of this standard and has supported the development process from initiation to publication.

The Anonymisation Standard - the Anonymisation Standard for Publishing Health and Social Care Data - is available at http://www.isb.nhs.uk/library/standard/128

ENDS


Notes to Editors

  1. This new standard was approved by the Information Standard Board for Health and Social Care on 28th January 2013, and is effective from 30 April. It sets out a process that health and social care organisations are required to follow to ensure that the health and social care information they publish is anonymised.
  2. The Anonymisation Standard will be included within 'The Code of Practice for the Management of Confidential Information' as the standard to be used when anonymising information.  Under the Health and Social Care Act (2012) the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) is required to prepare and publish a Code in respect of the practice to be followed in relation to the collection, analysis, publication and other dissemination of confidential information concerning, or connected with, the provision of health services or of adult social care in England. The Code (which must be approved by the Secretary of State and NHS England) is in progress and once it is formally published it will have a statutory basis. 
  3. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  4. For media enquiries about HSCIC, its data or operation-based system questions, please contact the press office on 0845 257 6990 or media@hscic.gov.uk
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