Supporting Caldicott Guardians across the UK


Guy Van Dichele

Guy Van Dichele has worked in local government for over 30 years, latterly as an independent consultant specialising in health and social care. He has held the role of Caldicott Guardian in several local authorities across England working with populations of between 250,000 and 500,000. He has also been a member of the governing body of a Clinical Commissioning Group and has experience of working closely with partner organisations including the NHS, police and fire services, and the voluntary sector.

Guy is a social worker by background and remains registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). His roles often include management of front-line delivery of direct care and support. He also often holds the responsibility for safeguarding adults. Protecting the personal data of these people is paramount.

Guy says: “Social work requires working in partnership with a range of other agencies and it is imperative that we ensure we have consent to share information in order to provide the best possible support to both the individual and their families. This is different from the position in many health services where they will need to act in the best interests of the person, sometimes without consent, for example in the ambulance service. Social care is rarely in this position and it is imperative we act lawfully.”

Working alongside those responsible for systems and information governance within organisations is of critical importance for the Caldicott Guardian. Guy says: “As Caldicott Guardian the first key task is to ensure that you place yourself on the national register and that the organisation is clear what the role is and that people know how to contact you. Creating a positive culture around information sharing and risks and modelling good behaviours is essential. Breaking down the fears people have in reporting errors is a must – you can’t put things right and prevent incidents escalating if you don’t know about them!”

Guy identifies three key areas in which he has often needed to advise:

Mental health and the deprivation of liberty. Providing mental health services more often than not requires health and social care to work together and to share information. Applying Caldicott principles often prevents untoward incidents and unnecessary distress to individuals and their families, as well as avoiding the risk of further investigation and fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Taking away a person’s liberty is very serious and should be applied appropriately and with the right professionals.

Safeguarding adults and working with the police. Guy says he still encounters difficulties with the relationship between local authorities and the police in protecting vulnerable adults. There are differences between the disciplines of dealing with criminality and providing protection. The way through this is, whilst respecting each profession’s background and training, to work closely together and build professional relationships outside of an incident so that when issues do occur they can be resolved.

Major transformation and the transfer of services from one provider to another. Since 2010 local authorities have embarked on major transformation programmes with a significant reduction in budgets and personnel. The role of Caldicott Guardian over the last few years has seen an increased requirement to ensure these change programmes understand the risks and comply with the law. Guy says: “It’s important not to just react to incidents that arise, but to proactively scan within the organisation to prevent incidents occurring".