Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing
Having started at the Centre towards the back end of 2015, I was excited to be invited down to Dorset last week to see first-hand what the launch of a new information sharing charter would look like. The event was titled ‘Dare to share’, and whilst I had my reservations that the name conjured up images that sharing is high risk, only for daredevils and the fearless few who throw caution to the wind, it was great to see this wasn’t the case and the main message from the keynote speakers was not ‘dare to share’ but rather ‘share to care’.
My colleagues Gurpreet and Jovian have been working with Dorset’s Better Together Programme Board for the past year, so whilst catching up on the backstory on the mammoth five hour train journey, I began to get a real feel for the work which has taken place. (Click here to read Gurpreet’s blog on the story so far).
The new ‘Dorset Information Sharing Charter’ (DISC) replaces the previous ‘Overarching Information Sharing Protocol’, (OAISP) and although many aspects of the DISC are similar to the old protocol, there are some key differences which set it apart. Mainly, the DISC signifies a commitment and recognition from chief executives and senior management as a promise is required from partners to participate in the information governance (IG) structure they have created to oversee the implementation.
There is also a higher level of confidence in the DISC, as it will only be reviewed every five years (as opposed to the annual review of the OAISP). The DISC is also far simpler than the OAISP (hoorah, even the new name is easier to remember!) as it doesn’t refer to recording and receipt or security and retention of information – which were key barriers to sharing information previously.
There were around 250 people at the launch event, which I think proves the desire and need to make the new charter work. After the introductions were made, speakers included Christopher Graham (Information Commissioner), Vikki Cochran (Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust) and our very own Director Stephen Curtis (to name just a few).
I won’t go into the details of every presentation as the agenda was jam-packed, but I will just mention that Christopher Graham gave a thought provoking speech which rang true to many of the conversations we’ve been involved with here at the Centre. The Information Commissioner set a challenge to the chief executives and leaders in the room; to change the culture around information sharing and the mind-set of how we do this safely. “It’s changing minds at the coalface that will make a difference to information sharing”, he concluded, “otherwise all the protocols and charters in the world won’t make the blindest bit of difference – that’s the leadership challenge.”
In-between the presentations, I listened to the feedback which was emerging from the workshops the Centre was running which looked at the barriers to information sharing. It was clear those in the room wanted to share information but felt it had been too risky to do so in the past which says something around confidence, or lack of it. There was also the issue of common language, and how writing a request for information on a form can be misinterpreted by the recipient partner who doesn’t clearly understand what the information is going to be used for. There was agreement that if these partners met face-to-face and discussed their concerns these information sharing issues could be resolved more quickly, and result in a partnership which ‘shares to care’.
After packing up our stand and rushing back to the train station I reflected to myself how important it is to have the right message communicated from the top – I hope all the chief executives who attended the event will take up Christopher Graham’s challenge to change mind-sets in their own organisations and that the message of ‘share to care’ will filter down, so that all frontline staff will have the confidence to share.