Foreword by Dame Fiona Caldicott
When I delivered my report on patient-identifiable information in 1997, I had no idea that it would lead to the appointment of thousands of people to positions bearing my name. That report recommended that “a senior person, preferably a health professional, should be nominated in each health organisation to act as a guardian, responsible for safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information.” This recommendation was accepted and since 1998 every NHS organisation has been required to have such an individual in post. It was never my intention that they should be called “Caldicott Guardians”, but that became the norm. Frankly I never knew whether to be flattered or embarrassed that so many able people were making wise decisions in my name.
It is too late to change that now. From 2002 local authorities were required to appoint a Caldicott Guardian to ensure that confidential information was protected well and shared wisely in social care. The role has since spread to other organisations in health and social care, and in associated sectors including prisons and the Ministry of Defence. I am told that it has also spread geographically and that Caldicott principles are being followed in other continents.
In recent years the need for guardians has become ever more important. Data about people’s experiences of health and social care has huge potential for improving services and discovering more effective treatments and ways to provide care. Those benefits will not be realised without public trust. The Caldicott Guardians are a powerful force for good by making sure that organisations behave in a way that is trustworthy.
I commend this manual, which has been produced by the UK Caldicott Guardian Council to help the guardians address their duties. I have had the pleasure over the years of meeting many guardians and I know that the role is sometimes difficult, but always interesting and rewarding. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Caldicott Guardians, past and present, for their excellent work.
Dame Fiona Caldicott
National Data Guardian