In July, clinical commissioners wrote to NHS England stating that they cannot carry out their statutory duties because of issues around processing patient confidential data. According to the E Health Insider article, primary care trusts had exemption to process patient confidential data (PCD) but this was not transferred to CCGs. Guidance issued from NHS England states that PCD can only be used for direct patient care, which does not include many other functions of commissioners.
In the letter to NHS England, NHS Clinical Commissioners state that there is a “very real concern amongst CCGs that the impact of this will be to stop them fulfilling their statutory functions” and that “CCGs have a fundamental need to access and process PCD, without which CCGs will be unable to carry out their commissioning responsibilities and support their member practices". Three significant issues impacting on CCGs are outlined in the letter. It says that risk stratification tools which rely on PCD are central to delivering patient care such as identifying high-risk patients for admission to a virtual ward. Lack of clarity around the guidance means that CCGs may be acting unlawfully. Lack of access to PCD also impacts on how CCGs can manage their finances as they cannot validate invoices from providers.