The Department of Health has announced a consultation into a proposed way to improve information sharing across health, social care and wider community support services. The consultation is to run at the same time at a number of demonstrator sites led by local authority partnership groups.

Care Services Minister, Phil Hope, has stated that the assessment process for people who need health and social care services should be quicker, simpler and more convenient once the current system has been streamlined. The consultation aims to create a more efficient and transparent system of information sharing, to avoid patients having to answer the same questions several times and ensure that people receive the best quality care and support.

The aim of the consultation is to find out what changes need to be made to the proposed system so that the service can be effectively tailored. The consultation will also involve consideration of how best to safely and securely share personal information across health and social care services as well as wider community services such as housing. The consultation, which will run from 21 January 2009 to 17 April 2009, will cover the following areas:

  • how assessment and care planning should be undertaken (the principles);
  • what information should be commonly shared;
  • who that information might be shared with;
  • proposals on the IT approach and solutions that would enable this to happen nationally; and
  • the issues around confidentiality and security arrangements that this entails.

Information sharing has historically been a challenging issue for the health and care sectors and anyone who would like to comment on the proposals should take part in the online consultation, which can be found here.