Coronavirus Updates

Latest updates on Coronavirus. As the situation is quickly evolving, it is important to be provided with up-to-date information. We’ll be updating and adding to our information. So keep checking back.

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14th August 2020

GP Weekly Update (Last update: 14.08.20)

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In this Bulletin:

  • ICO – FAQs During COVID-19
  • DSP Toolkit Reminder
  • Online and Video Consultation Tools

ICO – FAQs During COVID-19

It has been a challenging few months managing data protection matters during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has very helpfully put some FAQs together, especially for health and social care organisations.

One of the key reminders is that data protection laws do not stop Practices from sending public health messages to patients, either by phone, SMS text or email because these messages are not classed as direct marketing.

Another is that data protection law allows for extraordinary circumstances and sharing confidential patient information for purposes relating to the coronavirus pandemic, such as providing care services and managing risks to public health, is designed to give assurance to healthcare organisations that intend to share data. Confidential Patient Information (COPI) notices have now been extended until the end of March 2021.

If you are unsure about the appropriate data sharing action you should take, or are asked to take, you can contact England.IGPolicyTeam@nhs.net for advice.

The ICO has also provided some FAQs for staff in health and care organisations, such as working from home if they have to self-isolate, accessing and/or using confidential patient information (CPI) when working from home, and video conferencing with patients who are critically ill to communicate with them and their family members.

Just a reminder that COVID-19 tests are entirely voluntary. Staff may be invited by their employer to get tested, but there is no compulsion to be tested. Employers can ask staff if they have been tested, and ask for the test result, but employees do not have to disclose the result, unless this impacts on their working ability, for example, if they need to self-isolate for at least 10 days the employer will need to make plans to manage their absence. And remember that if there is a possibility coronavirus was contracted in the workplace, the employer must report this to the Health and Safety Executive as part of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995).

The main thing to remember is ‘if something feels excessive from the public’s point of view, then it probably is’, but if you need more help and advice, call the ICO on 0303 123 1113.

DSP Toolkit Reminder

Due to COVID-19, the deadline for completing the 2019/20 DSP Toolkit was extended to 30 September 2020. However, NHS Digital has received lots of questions about this so they have collated these in a helpful FAQ page. QCS will be producing a Confidentiality and Data Protection Monitoring/Spot Check question sheet soon to help Practices meet the requirements of the DSP Toolkit next week.

The 2020/21 DSP Toolkit will be implemented after 30 September 2020 and arrangements for this will be kept under review during the COVID-19 response.

Online and Video Consultations

With the majority of consultations still taking place remotely, please do make use of the 2 policies we have provided for these purposes. Policy reference GCP20 is called ‘Online Consultation policy and Procedure’ and GCP22 is ‘Video Consultations Policy and Procedure’.

The GMC has produced a Remote consultations document including a flow chart and case study and an Implementation toolkit is available here from NHS England.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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