You will have received, or should shortly receive, the message below from the Your Care Connected (YCC) project board.
Birmingham LMC has been fully consulted on the YCC project and I have been attending project board meetings in an advisory capacity in order to ensure that the perspective of GP practices have been fully considered and their interest safeguarded as far as is possible. The degree to which the board has engaged with the LMC and been prepared to take on board and act upon our advice has been both welcome and appreciated.
I can confirm that the LMC has sought its own independent legal advice on the YCC Data Sharing Agreement (DSA). Our lawyers additionally had full background information on the project and were able to discuss the matter with senior YCC project board members and its legal adviser. I can confirm that our legal advisers are indeed content that the legal basis for practices to share data under the YCC project and using this DSA is sound and that the potential for any legal or other risks to practices doing so is minimal. I can also confirm that the LMC shared an earlier draft of the DSA with the BMA medical ethics department. Numerous comments and suggests by BMA ethics were considered by the YCC project board and incorporated into the revised DSA, which has also been the subject of discussions with the Information Commissioners Office and the opinions of an expert barrister specialising in information governance issues commissioned by the YCC project board.
The LMC can therefore reassure practices as much as it possibly can, in respect of participation in the YCC project. Of course this cannot completely mitigate any risks, but the probability is that such risks are no more likely and no greater than any risks that practices run through appropriate sharing of data by other means as part of their usual clinical practice. Furthermore, when making their decision on whether or not to participate, practices will also want to consider both the potential benefits, for their patients and themselves, of utilising YCC, and also set against this any potential risks arising from non-participation. I expect that most practices are likely to decide that the potential benefits outweigh possible risks, but clearly this will be an individual practice decision.
I am also mindful that participation may bring potential, and currently unquantifiable, workload issues for practices, and the need to ensure that the data on their clinical systems is as accurate as possible. Again though it may also be that participation in YCC will bring about some benefits in respect of practice workload.
If any practice wishes to see the LMC’s legal advice I have our lawyer’s permission to share it, in which case a hard copy will be sent upon request, but with the caveats that this must not be shared outside the requesting practice, and that the advice therein has been produced solely for Birmingham LMC and cannot be relied upon by any other party. Any practice which still has concerns in respect of participating in YCC should consider obtaining its own legal opinion.
You will very shortly receive a copy of the Your Care Connected Data Sharing Agreement (DSA). This is an important document that will enable access to practices across Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell for a ground-breaking new information sharing service to improve the care our patients receive. This communication explains why we would very much like you to participate, how it will affect you and what we’re asking you to do next – please pass this information on to your colleagues.
It’s important to note that in order to take part in Your Care Connected, your Caldicott Guardian will need to review, sign and return the DSA – instructions for how to do this will be sent alongside the DSA itself.
Your Care Connected is a new system being implemented across Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull which will allow healthcare professionals working in a secondary care setting to view information from a patient’s GP record, with the patient’s consent, to provide better, safer care.
Your Care Connected is a real opportunity to forge stronger connections with our colleagues in Secondary Care. This will help us to continue providing the care and support our patients deserve across their entire episode of care, whether that is in an emergency situation or a regular planned outpatient appointment. A key benefit is also that practices will no longer need to routinely send patient information to hospitals - this should considerably reduce the administrative burden on our staff and save valuable time.
As many of you will know, one of the critical milestones for the Your Care Connected programme is the Data Sharing Agreement (DSA), a document which clearly outlines the responsibilities of those involved in the sharing of patient information.
As members of the NHS, as well as safeguarding our patient data, we also have a duty to share information where it is done legally, safely and securely, to improve the direct care our patient’s receive. Our DSA has been developed with this in mind and we have worked collaboratively with the LMC and the BMA to ensure we protect the interests of all data controllers (which in this case is our practices). We also consulted with the Information Commissioner’s Office, Medical Defence Unions and the General Medical Council. Their advice and guidance has been reflected in the DSA
The DSA is now ready to be distributed to practices, having been reviewed and double checked by independent legal experts appointed by Dr Robert Morley on behalf of Birmingham LMC. The solicitors, who specialise in Information Governance in primary care, were satisfied that the risk to practices of information sharing via the Your Care Connected programme is very low, with the potential benefits to our patients significantly outweighing this slight risk.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues involved to date and for their going support and hard work.
All practices who wish to participate in Your Care Connected will be required to sign the DSA. May we ask that you/your designated Caldicott Guardian review, sign and return the DSA if your practice intends to share patient information through Your Care Connected. Signing the DSA will also allow us to begin the mail out to your patients to make them aware of Your Care Connected. We will provide them with sufficiently clear information for them to make an informed decision about whether or not they wish their data to be shared through the service when they visit one of the participating secondary care organisations.
We have also been working closely with many of you to conduct our free data quality assessments, with reassuringly excellent results so far. With your support, we have been able to complete over 100 data quality assessment to date in preparation for data sharing early in 2016. If you have not yet registered for your data quality assessment, you can do so through the contact details at the end of this message.
Like all of you, we are keen to improve the quality and safety of patient care. At the same time we wish to support practice colleagues in reducing the amount of bureaucracy, with work handed back to them due to lack of standardised information available when patient present in other settings. YCC is a locally defined shared electronic patient record led by the CCGs. It will help us achieve the best care for the majority of our patients and make our lives less bureaucratic.
How we will support you
It is important that you feel supported throughout this process and we want to give you the opportunity to speak with the team and ask questions. We will be holding a number of webinars and roadshows throughout January and February which we encourage you to join. We will be emailing you with further details over the next 2 weeks.
Thank you for taking time to read this and your ongoing support
If you have any questions about the Your Care Connected programme or the DSA, please contact the team on 0121 255 0877 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Masood Nazir - GP - Hall Green Health: Chief Clinical Information Officer – Your Care Connected programme Gavin Ralston - GP - Lordswood Medical Practice: Chair – Your Care Connected programme board; Chair – Birmingham CrossCity CCG
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