18 Feb 2024
by Policy, Practice and Innovation Team
Closing date: 28 Mar 2024

Legislation is being passed to make compliance with information standards in health and adult social care mandatory for providers, including potentially CQC-regulated private providers and providers of IT products and services to the sector in England. A consultation is underway concerning regulations that will set out a procedure for how information standards are prepared, published and revised.

Standards relating to the processing of information, prepared and published under section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) 2012 are being amended by the Health and Care Act (HCA) 2022, and the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill, currently before Parliament.

Under Section 250, the Secretary of State or NHS England may prepare and publish information standards, which the Secretary of State, NHS England and publicly funded health and adult social care organisations in England must have regard to.  

NHS England maintains a list of all information standards, which is published on the NHS England standards directory. This includes those relevant to social care, like the Accessible Information Standard.

The HCA 2022 will amend section 250 in the following ways:

  • it changes the definition of ‘an information standard’ to a standard related to the processing of information (as opposed to a document containing such standards), and says an information standard must specify to whom it applies
  • it describes the persons who an information standard may apply to as being:
    • the Secretary of State
    • NHS England
    • any public body which exercises functions in connection with the provision of healthcare or adult social care in England
    • CQC-regulated private providers (text summarised)
  • in place of the duty to ‘have regard’ to information standards, it requires persons to whom information standards apply to comply. However, the Secretary of State will continue only to be obliged to ‘have regard’ to standards published by NHS England which apply to the Secretary of State.

The changes include the potential for the use of enforcement powers that could apply to CQC-regulated private providers in the future.

Proposed amendments in the DPDI Bill to section 250 would extend the potential application of mandatory information standards to providers of IT products and services used in connection with the provision of health and adult social care in England.

DHSC has to consult before making regulations on preparing and revising information standards.

The current consultation asks whether, before preparing an information standard, the Secretary of State or NHS England should be required to obtain advice, who should be represented, what should be considered, what information should be in the information standard, intervals for reviewing, and procedures for adopting and revoking standards.

The consultation is at: Information standards for health and adult social care in England - GOV.UK and closes on 28 March 2024.

Homecare Association's response to this consultation (member log-in required).

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