LAPH access to national data - South East Public Health Observatory

Local Authority public health
data access - update
Dr Robert Kyffin
Data and Information Policy and Partnerships Lead
Chief Knowledge Officer’s Directorate
Public Health England
[email protected]
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, City of
Westminster Archives Centre, London, 26 March 2014
A recap on the current situation
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 does not provide a legal basis for
Local Authority public health (LAPH) to process personal confidential data
(PCD) for health improvement and healthcare public health purposes
There are other legal mechanisms, such as consent or Section 251, but
these are not well-suited to supporting the routine, day-to-day delivery of a
typical LAPH analytical service – local needs tend to be iterative and
exploratory, so LAPH needs access to ‘the data’
The Act and the DH Information Strategy set out the national role of the
reformed HSCIC as “the focal point for information across the health and
care sector (responsible for) collecting, holding securely, linking and making
readily available the data it holds in safe, de-identified formats”
But the vision of the HSCIC as the primary source of linked, pseudonymised
health and social care data sets not yet fully realised
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Vision for LAPH data access
The vision in the Act and the Information Strategy is not about restricting
LAPH access to data – it’s about supporting LAPH to do its job by:
• increasing routine access to linked, pseudonymised data sets produced at scale
(nationally and regionally) in accredited safe haven environments
• supporting local analytical teams to spend less time on duplicative and timeconsuming data management tasks
• shifting the focus from monitoring process to increasing understanding of
outcomes and causality at a local level
• increasing the amount of time spent on the production of intelligence to improve
the delivery of public health services
This vision is reinforced by Caldicott 2, which has reiterated the need to be
absolutely clear about the legal basis to process PCD and the importance of
not using PCD unless absolutely necessary, and only using the minimum
amount where it is
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Local Authority PCD requirements
Defining a legal basis for LAPH to process PCD depends on agreeing a
common set of requirements
This has proven to be a challenge for several reasons:
• the transfer of DsPH and their teams to Local Authorities has replaced the relative
homogeneity of the PCTs with new (and variable) organisational structures,
cultures, ways of working, roles and responsibilities, and priorities
• the transfer has exposed differences in historic levels of access to PCD by public
health in the NHS – this in turn has created varying expectations about necessary
levels of access following transition
• there are differences in local public health knowledge and intelligence capability
and capacity, creating different demands and compounded by variable
understandings of the law and information governance
• the ongoing transition challenges in the national organisations – particularly the
HSCIC and NHS England – are still impacting on exactly what data is available to
NHS commissioners and LAPH
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Progress update
There are ongoing issues adversely impacting on local flows of data, which
are affecting the ability of LAPH to develop strategic commissioning plans,
monitor changes in population health needs, and benchmark and assess
comparative health outcomes (among other public health functions)
LAPH access to national data
• HES extract service: will provide all LAPH teams with direct access to
pseudonymised HES, updated on a monthly basis, for the inpatients, outpatients
and A&E data sets for the last ten years (five for A&E) for the whole of England –
currently being piloted and will be rolled out shortly. The volume of data involved is
substantial and requires a reasonable level of analytical capability and capacity –
the option to access the service through the DSCROs is being explored.
• Other HES options: LAPH teams can directly access HES through HDIS (at cost)
and some CSUs are providing access to pseudonymised SUS/HES data cubes
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Progress update
LAPH access to national data (cont.)
• LAPH data access group: being set up between the HSCIC and PHE with LAPH
representation to:
• clarify the data sets currently available to LAPH teams through the HSCIC
and PHE, and the processes by which LAPH can access these
• clarify where appropriate the legal gateway to enable specific data flows
• understand the priority data access and data linkage requirements of LAPH,
• establish regular communications specifically directed at LAPH to increase
awareness and understanding of the data and information services currently
available, and the work underway in the HSCIC and PHE to make further
data available to meet LAPH requirements
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Progress update
LAPH access to local data
• CSUs: the CSU offer to LAPH is still evolving, but some are providing LAPH with
direct access to pseudonymised data eg. the N&EL HES data cube service
• DSCROs: the HSCIC’s Data Services for Commissioners Regional Offices provide
regional processing capability to capture, link and de-identify data for
commissioning purposes. Directions have been issued by NHS England for the
HSCIC/DSCROs to process healthcare data to support NHS commissioners, but
the offer to LAPH is still being developed
• ASH status: accredited safe haven status represents a potential mechanism to
enable LAPH to lawfully process weakly pseudonymised data for a range of
approved linkage and analysis purposes. The focus of national discussion on
ASHs has centred on the needs of NHS commissioning, but ASH status may
provide a solution to some LAPH requirements. Draft ASH Regulations have been
produced by DH, but a policy decision is still to be made by DH about the potential
application of ASH status to LAPH
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Progress update
Establishing a legal basis for LAPH to process PCD
• Information governance and legal advice is supportive of a reinterpretation of
Regulation 3 of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations
2002 – this allows PCD to be processed with a view to “diagnosing communicable
diseases and other risks to public health” (italics added)
• But the use of Regulation 3 is not without problems:
• its use since inception has been restricted to health protection purposes
• reinterpreted secondary legislation is a poor ‘sticking plaster’ for
organisational delivery issues
• it is ‘permissive’ ie. it has no built-in review mechanism or requirement to
report back on adherence to the purposes for which access was granted
• the approval and operational support structures required to efficiently
process requests for PCD are not yet in place
• An options paper is being prepared for the Chief Medical Officer to provide a
policy steer on whether to proceed with Regulation 3
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Progress update
Action for LAPH
• Information Governance Toolkit: LAPH progress in achieving IGT Level 2 is
variable across the country but is required for access to a range of data sets such
as PCMD and essential to enable local processing of PCD. Support with the IGT
is available from the HSCIC External IG Delivery Team, and all LAPH teams are
strongly encouraged to focus on achieving Level 2. Longer term, IGT Level 2
combined with Regulation 3 (if approved) will mean that LAPH teams will not need
to apply to become an ASH (if available)
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014
Progress update
LAPH functions likely to require access to PCD
• surveillance of public health risks – eg. association between housing conditions
and admissions and deaths from specific diseases
• health inequalities monitoring – eg. assessing inequalities in provision of, and
outcomes from, falls prevention services
• health needs assessment / health equity audit – eg. matching Learning Disability
Registers to NHS primary and secondary care data to analyse service access
equity issues
• provision of public health advice to NHS commissioners (including service
planning and design) – eg. patient pathway mapping to support health and social
care integration; risk stratification and benchmarking
• contract monitoring of commissioned public health services – eg. NHS Health
Check cohort identification and quality assurance (ie. making sure providers are
conducting heath checks effectively on the right people)
South East Public Health Information Group meeting, March 2014

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