What Are the Responsibilities of the IG Leads in Health and Social Care Organisations?

One of the NHS Information Governance (IG) toolkit requirements is that there are designated individuals responsible for the various elements of Information Governance management. Ideally, a health or social care organisation should have a named individual or a number of named individuals who take(s) responsibility for the following IG areas:

– Information Governance in its entirety
– Acts as a Caldicott Guardian
– Risk
– Security
– Data protection
– Confidentiality

A structure chart should be in place at each health or social care organisation, which depicts who is responsible for each of these areas. It is also helpful to have a communication flow chart too, which depicts how information about information governance issues flows between the named ‘leads’ and the rest of the staff group.

It is all very well and good to allocate an individual to a particular IG risk area, but what exactly does it mean to be a ‘named individual responsible for Risk’, or to be ‘the nominated individual who looks after confidentiality issues’?

Well, in the broadest possible sense, an individual responsible for an area of information governance takes the lead in ensuring the following:

– That all employees have received the appropriate level of training on their designated area of IG compliance; i.e. risk, security, data protection, etc.

– That there are procedures and policies in place that outline clearly to staff what they need to do to ensure that they comply with all IG standards.

– That staff compliance with these procedures and policies is audited and monitored routinely throughout the year.

– That all staff have a training plan in place that reflects their needs for IG training.

– That documentation and operational procedures are updated routinely, in line with national and best practice guidance.

– That patients and carers or other service users are made aware of the IG procedures in place throughout the organisation, thereby ensuring that they are confident in the way that their own personal information is handled.

– That any breaches in confidentiality, information sharing protocols, risk avoidance or data protection are investigated thoroughly, and that lessons are learnt from these breaches.

– That information governance is highlighted as an area of importance throughout the organisation, and that staff are made aware of updates in the world of IG in general.

In addition, the overarching individual responsible for Information Governance should ensure that an IG group is formed and that this group meets routinely, with formal agendas set and minutes from each group taken.

New Ways of Working in Health and Social Care: New Management Challenges

Changing work plan and culture in health and social care means that organisations have to do things differently. This is obvious in every day practice for example, professionals such as social workers, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists may have been well-trained but not necessarily on how to manage resources well. To manage resources effectively and efficiently, managers and leaders need special skills, experience and knowledge necessary to deliver services within budgets more over during organisational change. Yet, the eagerness within health and social care to move into employee-led mutual will create new issues and challenges for managers to turnaround peoples’ behaviours and attitudes to do things differently. We are in era of change for example, modernisation of services – personalization of services and the big society agendas. These themes have necessitated the needs for new ways of working.

Decentralisation and delegation of authorities would create new management challenges. Managers of employee-led mutual must be experienced and comfortable to manage resources in order to maximise profits for their organisations so that their business would be able to survive and thrive. Nonetheless, health and social care managers needs to be innovative and entrepreneurial within their particular specialism but such pragmatism is quite different from their career and their professionalism. Unfortunately, taking risks of this magnitude could be detrimental for employees who are not qualified to lead or manage resources within business excellence models. By contrast, health and social care sectors are militated against by its many layers of bureaucracy and management, while guaranteed work flow and pension’s provision, although this is fast disappearing and make any change a scary prospect for managers.

To facilitate the move towards employee’s led mutual, decentralisation or innovation within the sectors for example, bottom up management approach has to be explored though these have been overlooked for a long-time in public sector organisations such as social service. Practically, employee’s led mutual could be the answer to vocational calls from service users for better services delivery. This would allow leaders to dismantle some of the bureaucracy, frustrations and risk-aversion within the sectors. Operationally, employees’ led mutual is a great way of doing things, because you make people fully responsible for what they do. Involving them in the decision-making process means staff does not get to disassociate themselves from the consequence of their actions. The focus now is one of collaboration and empowerment, rather than the hierarchical, command-and-control structure of the organisations.

On reflection, health and social care sectors could learn much from private sector models of innovation, and the skills and capabilities of private sector managers must be adopted by those heading the changing organisations. In practice, professionals generally does not particularly have strong skills to manage complex issues within the organisation. People have been recruited on their specialism for example, being the best surgeon does not make you the best chief executive director of service delivery. In local government, there is certainly a propensity to administer rather than manage.

Typically, you will have professionals who have been well-trained but not necessarily to manage for example, social workers or nurses will know how to carry out needs assessment and provide care within resources available to them. But, they may not have the skills and knowledge to manage budgets, capacity and aggregate planning or being diplomatic while managing the services they deliver. Working in a mutual organisation requires a different mindset and requires managers to perform differently outside the protected environment of the welfare service (specialism).

It is no longer sufficient just to do a good job. Managers must be able to sell, develop and deliver, knowing that the market will always be on the lookout for better options. This removes the safety net, meaning they must be less risk-averse, more dynamic and certainly more efficient, effective and economical in order to maximise resources and budgets. In the current economic climate of new ways of working, managers and leaders must adopt many new skills and competencies required to demonstrate their knowledge-based approaches and abilities to defend their positions.

In hindsight, health and social care sectors could lose its brightest and best people to employee-led mutual hence they are able to engage users participation, more innovative, blending policies into practice and meeting service users aspirations. This is about embracing new ways of doing things differently and this would enhance resource management and commissioning of services within best values principles. This would also means getting smarter to work with the third sector organisations, though the welfare organisations in particular has not got its head around professionalising in this way.